Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Awesome Gem: 8 Years Young

Posted by Brian Appleton on June 25, 2011

How often do you see a thoroughbred racehorse win a Grade 1 race at the age of seven and then return the next year to win a Grade 3 at age eight? I think it’s safe to say that’s an incredibly rare feat to pull off in this day and age of racing where the best athletes are retired after one or two solid campaign seasons. Awesome Gem is the exception to the rule. He began his career in August of 2006 at Hollywood Park, taking three tries to break his maiden and then won an allowance, finished second in a Grade 2 and won a Grade 3. Beginning in 2007 the Awesome Again gelding has participated in four Breeders’ Cup events with his best finish coming in a strong third place finish behind Curlin and Hard Spun in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr.1) at Monmouth Park.

This Saturday the 8-year-old veteran will try to win his first back-to-back Graded Stakes when he takes on a competitive field of ten others in the $300,000, Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino. In his last start Awesome Gem captured the Lone Star Park Handicap (gr.3) by one length, defeating Game On Dude and Thiskyhasnolimit. Two starts back he was closing best of all in the Grade 3 Alysheba Stakes but ran out of stretch, finishing fourth, beaten for the win by just ¼ length. He seems to be at the top of his game and this is the perfect year for him to perform well with the older male division is complete confusion. If he wins the Cornhusker and is able to defend his title in the Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap (gr.1) he could have as good a shot as any at a chance for the championship title. It’s a huge “if” to assume he will win two more graded stakes races through July when he hasn’t even been able to string together two wins since 2006, but I’ll be rooting for the impossible.

It’s very hard to find a horse as consistent and durable as Awesome Gem, not to mention plucky. No matter what happens in the race it’s practically a proven fact that he’ll be coming flying at the end.

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