Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Breeders' Cup next for Awesome Gem

Marcus Hersh,
Daily Racing Form

STICKNEY, Ill. - Third in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic and sixth in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Mile, Awesome Gem is bound for another Breeders' Cup start on the heels of his brave victory Saturday in the Hawthorne Gold Cup. The question is which one.

"We haven't mapped out a plan yet," trainer Craig Dollase said Monday. "He's definitely going to the Breeders' Cup, but we're not sure which race yet."

Awesome Gem's victory here Saturday came over the Classic distance of 1 1/4 miles, but the Classic is only one of three races being considered for Awesome Gem. A return trip to the Mile is a possibility, but so is the 1 3/4-mile Marathon, Dollase said.

Awesome Gem remained stabled at Hawthorne as of Monday and is due to fly back to Los Angeles on Wednesday morning. Dollase said the gelding had exited the Gold Cup in fine fashion, and he was pleased with how Awesome Gem had handled a muddy racetrack. Awesome Gem hadn't encountered mud since finishing third to Curlin in the 2007 BC Classic and he got plenty of wet racetrack splattered onto him Saturday. David Flores kept Awesome Gem down along the fence for most of the Gold Cup, and he made two runs (one to get position, the second to win the thing) while never showing any sign of backing away from the muddy kickback.

Nite Light raced wide into the first turn and turned in a solid performance finishing second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths. Nite Light won his Polytrack debut last month in the 1 1/2-mile Turfway Park Fall Championship and has run in races as long as two miles. The Breeders' Cup Marathon seems a natural target for him, and Nite Light could well wind up in that spot.

"I'd say it's a strong possibility," Michael McCarthy, Todd Pletcher's assistant, said just after the Gold Cup.

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