Awesome Gem Still Shining Bright

He may not be awesome, but he’s definitely a gem. Although Awesome Gem has won only six of 35 starts in his career and was winless in 2008 and is winless this year, he has compiled a record that should make him one of the most endearing horses in the country.

It’s difficult not to root for a horse who has given his all for so long over so many different surfaces, and fails to make some kind of an impact only when the pace fails to set up for his late-closing style of running.

But you can bet very few people are going to pick him in Saturday’s Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), as he faces one of racing’s fastest rising stars, Rail Trip, winner of last year’s Hollywood Gold Cup and this year’s Mervyn Leroy Handicap (gr. II) and Californian Stakes (gr. II), as well as last year’s Pacific Classic (gr. I) winner Richard’s Kid, and the speedy Compari, winner of six in a row before finishing a troubled seventh in the Shoemaker Mile (gr. I).

But one of these days, Awesome Gem is going to have everything fall his way and land his first grade I stakes victory. He has come close, having been beaten a nose in the 2007 Goodwood (gr. I), a half-length in the 2007 Pacific Classic, and one length in the 2009 Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT).

But whether he ever gets that elusive grade I score, you can’t help but admire him for what he has accomplished in this multi-surface age of racing.

The son of Awesome Again has finished first, second, or third at 10 different racetracks in seven different states – Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, Del Mar, Golden Gate (California), Monmouth Park (New Jersey), Fair Grounds (Louisiana), Lone Star (Texas), Charles Town (West Virginia), Hawthorne (Illinois), and Emerald Downs (Washington).

He also has finished first, second, or third on fast, sloppy, and muddy dirt tracks, turf, Pro-Ride, Cushion Track, Polytrack, and Tapeta, at distances ranging from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/4 miles. With all the traveling around the country (and once to Hong Kong), often meeting top-class horses, he has maintained a 66% in-the-money ratio.

Even in several of his out-of-the-money performances, he was beaten only 4 1/4 lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), 3 3/4 lengths in the Pacific Classic, 4 3/4 lengths in another Pacific Classic, 5 1/4 lengths in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), 3 1/2 lengths in the Strub Stakes (gr. II), 3 1/2 lengths in the Frank Kilroe Mile (gr. IT), 1 1/2 lengths in the Californian Stakes, and 1 1/4 lengths in the Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT)

In addition to winning the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) and Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II), he has placed in the grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic, Pacific Classic, Goodwood, and Eddie Read, as well as seven other graded stakes.

In short, this is a horse who tries, regardless of the surface or the distance, whether he’s racing on the West Coast or East Coast, Midwest or South. Horses like this no longer are common in today’s conservative racing world where horses are raced sparingly and specialize in one surface. Awesome Gem is not going to win any Eclipse Awards, but he should win the admiration of racing fans across the country.
Would you like to own your own Awesome Gem? Join us Tuesday, July 20 at 1:00 p.m. EST, for a free webcast and a live Q&A session about Thoroughbred partnerships. Register Now!


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He's a true gem of racing. I do hope he gets his grade 1. I love all these "old" guys...

08 Jul 2010 2:20 PM
steve from st louis

What a job by Craig Dollase to have this hard-knocking gelding ready for every dance. He might be push-button, but I doubt it.

08 Jul 2010 2:24 PM
Matthew W

Steve, you get the same race out of Awesome Gem, no matter what the surface! Always top class, turf or dirt or synthetic--that's class! He's certainly a tri/super underneath horse! Now he tries Rail Trip, in a race that features much early foot--hmmmmm....Rail Trip attempts the Mervin Leroy/Californian/Hollywood Gold Cup triple--'hasn't been done in 29 years, that's 29 years since my all-time favorite time at Hollywood Park, "The Summer Of Stitches"...I will try to recall it like I saw it, as I was there, my brother was there, another friend was there, and we all caught Eleven Stitches, every time, at 7-1 each race! I first saw stitches at Santa Anita, where I had him at 4-1 in a small stakes--he was tiring over a heavy track (back then they did not roll the tracky, they just absorbed the water and they would get very tiring)...he came back on to get the $$ after being passed, and I took note of that--he was a gangly dark bay, with much speed but he also had stay/fight/he didn't want to be passed--in the Mervin Leroy he pushed fast splits, then was passed again, same thing in the Californian--passed by such horses as Temperance Hill, the very good filly Kilajaro, the great filly Glorious Song (one of the all-time greatest), and another Eastern hot-shot whose name escapes me--'Stitches just could come back on them, it was freaky! When the Gold Cup came along, all he had to beat was John Henry! There he was, battling it out in the stretch with Caterman (another good horse), he was bumped, lost by 1/2 length, but because by then everyone knew his MO, his tenacity, his ability to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat--because of his reputation, the stewards (rightfully) put up Eleven Stitches--Rail Trip is some kinda animal, maybe the best horse in the country, and if he can win the Gold Cup, he'll be in a rare group, a group that includes one of my all-time favorites, a horse who has certainly fallen through history's cracks: the absolutely dead-game Eleven Stitches!

08 Jul 2010 2:41 PM
Matthew W

Probably should've won the Eddie Read last year...

08 Jul 2010 2:43 PM

What a nice article, Steve.  My husband and I saw Awesome Gem back in April at the Charles Town Classic and I was much impressed.  Everyone was ignoring Awesome Gem given the fact the hometown horse, Researcher was favored to win.  Win he did but I remember commenting to my husband prior to the race to keep an eye on Awesome Gem.  He trailed behind until the far turn and then we witnessed this amazing burst from a relatively small horse.  I was yelling my head off as AG came flying down the stretch to get up for second.  More impressive is the fact he's 7 and still flying over every track he visits.  Steve, you are right, Awesome Gem won't win any Eclipse Awards but he should win an award for heart! My guess is he'll be somewhere in the money on Saturday.  Thanks for giving him the spotlight even if it's for a short time.

08 Jul 2010 3:26 PM

Steve....Awesome piece as usual.

Mathew.....Awesome.   I love reading everything you and Deacon write about the old days in California.  I have a copy of John Henry's PP's.  The race was on June 14, 1981 and it broke off a John Henry 5 race winning streak.  John would come right back and win his next 4 in a row.  That DQ also cost Caterman his only chance at a graded stakes win.  I did find some info on Eleven Stitches.  His record was 16-8-3-0 and he earned 684K with the 2 G1 wins.  Keep the stories coming.

08 Jul 2010 3:50 PM

ALL HEART...ty...

08 Jul 2010 4:08 PM

Thank you for recognizing Awesome Gem in your blog!  I always have a "soft spot" in my heart for these "Old Warriors".  Their presence always enhances a race. While we remember champions with great awe, horses like Awesome Gem, are the ones we think of with fondness and respect after their retirement.  I, for one, will be rooting for Awesome Gem this weekend just as I do when Bold Chieftain runs.  Also, my thoughts and prayers are with another hard-knocking horse--Global Hunter.

08 Jul 2010 4:21 PM

Matthew W-  I loved Kilajaro

08 Jul 2010 4:35 PM
Pam S.

I feel like I have been watching Awesome Gem in a variety of big races for years now, and in fact, I have!  With his longevity and versatility, the "Gem" has won the admiration of this racing fan.  I really hope he gets his Grade 1 win because he is a dependable, rugged and very deserving racehorse.

08 Jul 2010 5:19 PM
Virgil Fox

Very nice Steve.

You have to admire consistency.  His wins are few but he frequently finds his way into the mix.  

I wish I could say ‘ah, like the old days’, but I’ve only been a fan since 2004.

Also, I have a soft spot for 7-year-old geldings, as my absolute favorite horse is at Penn National working his way back to the races for Todd Beattie.

Props to Awesome Gem and to his team.  The horse is healthy, wants to run and has proven he can at least hang with some of the best.  Good luck to them.

- Peace

08 Jul 2010 5:30 PM

Thanks Steve for this piece on Awesome Gem,I always watch him race,I keep track of everywhere he goes.I adore him& root for every time,even if he doesn't win!I also like Bold Chieftain @jlp9185.I root for for the Gem just like I did for  Evening Attire when he was running, they give a great race every time.One of my favorites is Macho Again, don't know whats up lately with him lately though, he sure looked tired at CH last out.I think he always gives it all to

08 Jul 2010 5:31 PM
Lori Morton

Thanks so much Steve, for your 'awesome' article on this fabulous trier!  I remember how thrilled I was when he hit the board in the 2007 Classic!  He shows up every time!  Now because of your article on him, I have so much more information to keep together -  I had found myself wondering, every time I'd see him in another great field, "Mmmm just what IS this durable boy's race record??"   You have brought a smile to all of his fans w this tribute, Steve.  I can just see them "shining" as I am right now.  Love Awesome Gem!! And may he get his grade 1 someday soon - this weekend??  :)

08 Jul 2010 5:43 PM

I have loved this horse for years! I was lucky to see him in person this past year, and I WILL have some $ on him Saturday. Go gem go!

08 Jul 2010 5:58 PM

i won't be surprised that in 2 to 4 yrs he could be racing against the offspring of the horses he ran against which includes street sense, hard spun, any given saturday lawyer ron and the other horses he faced who entered stud in 2008

08 Jul 2010 6:14 PM
Bill W

Great article Steve!

Thank You.

I could be wrong Matthew, but I don´t remember John Henry running in the 1981 Hollywood Gold Cup.


08 Jul 2010 6:37 PM

An iron horse with an amazing record--his earnings stand at $1,974,682--here's hoping he can pass that 2 million mark this weekend!

Aside from his racing record, this horse is a great selling point for the value of parnerships, and for getting new fans involved as owners! I know members of a family who own part of Awesome Gem with the Westpoint group. They don't own a huge share, nor was the initial investment huge, but thanks to the partnership concept they have been all over the country, standing in the paddock for many races most people only dream of attending, such as the BC Classic in 08 when Gem was 3rd. How cool is that? I think partnerships really are the future of racing--average people can honestly afford to buy in, and you get all the full benefits and priveleges of being an owner whether you own 5% or 100%--works for me! So, it is an additional benefit to see a great campaigner such as Gem doing well over a period of time for a partnership in my eyes! Good luck on Sat to Awesome Gem!

08 Jul 2010 6:55 PM
Luster's Lady

Thanks for recognizing Gem. I met one of the owners here at Hawthorne; nice lady. And to think her husband bought her part of the horse. What a guy!! I'm still waiting to get one like Gem. I'm part of the stable but haven't been quite so lucky. That's what keeps us in the business, hoping for the BIG one.

08 Jul 2010 6:59 PM

In 2007, a show about animals/pets did a 4 1/2 minute long segment featuring Awesome Gem, and his gr.2 San Fernando Stakes victory over Midnight Lute, Brother Derek, and Arson Squad.  It was mentioned that although he is willful, tough to control, and can be a bad boy, he is like a family member.  I especially liked the following statement:  "At the end of the day, people are willing to give all of themselves to a horse who is willing to give all of himself."  

08 Jul 2010 7:16 PM
Ida Lee

I too love the Old Warriors and Awesome Gem has always been one of my favorites. I very much enjoyed reading about him. Thank you for bringing him into the spotlight with your article.

08 Jul 2010 7:26 PM
Afleet Treet

Go Gemster Go!!!!


Thansk for this fabulous article Steve! I have loved Gem for years and was privileged enough to meet up with the West Point folks at Emerald Downs when he ran in the Longacre's Mile. He is gusty grinder type horse who gives his all and gains fans wherever he goes. KUDOS to West Point TB's and Craig Dollase for doing such an amazing job with him over the years! WHile he probably won't be the favorite at the windows on Satuirday I am certain he will be the sentimental favorite for MANY and no one would be disappointed if he won, that's for sure! Goooooo Gemster Goooooo!!!

HorseRacingMania Loves AWESOME GEM!

08 Jul 2010 7:28 PM

I just love this horse. I too, went to Charles Town to watch him run. I hope he has a safe trip as well as a winning one.

08 Jul 2010 7:40 PM

Thanks Steve for another great article about the Gemster. I am priviledged to be one of the partners on this horse, and I doubt I will ever own another quite like him. He shows up every time, and has given us so many thrills and great memories over the years. He's also pretty laid back and fun to hang out with at the barn. This will be his first Gold Cup try, and we're really excited to give him another shot at getting a Grade 1 win. He's come close before and hopefully it's finally his turn.

08 Jul 2010 8:07 PM

Loved reading this articles and all the comments. Thank you again Steve for another great piece of writing!

08 Jul 2010 8:11 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I'm like Virgil and others. I have a soft spot for older geldings and you gotta love this guy. He's sharp right now so a win is not out of the question. I see Awesome Gem running a big race Saturday. I see the top 3 as being Awesome Gem, Richard's Kid and Rail Trip, not in order. I don't know the order. Awesome Gem is probably the only one bettable from those three. Rail Trip will be heavily bet. All I care about though is a safe trip. The older geldings that give their all to racing deserve a special home when they retire. I'd have Golden Gelding Retiremnet Home if I could. It would be all geldings who dedicated their life to racing. They would get the best of delicasies to make up for what they missed and the years they had to race because they couldn't go to stud.

08 Jul 2010 8:43 PM


Great Article! Awesome Gem is one of my favorite horses of the past 5 years. He is such a gamer and always comes through with a big late run to scoop up some earnings. I've had the pleasure of watching him run several game efforts on the turf and dirt in Northern and Southern California. One has got to love his versatility.  Here's a little tidbit about Awesome Gem for everyone who is reading this post. AG was born on Runnymede Farm in Paris, Kentucky, the heart of Bluegrass country. This farm consistently churns out black-type runners, to clients all over the racing world. It seems like every year, they produce a magnificent crop of yearlings. The horses at Runnymede are sound and strong! So, it's no wonder why Awesome Gem has had such a long and successful career.  Owner, West Point Thoroughbreds and Trainer, Craig Dollase have done a wonderful job of keeping this horse healthy and on the track. AG has never won a Grade 1 race, but the potential for the G1 Hollywood Gold Cup to fall apart in the stretch this weekend, is a very likely scenario. If Tres Borrachos and Compari can use their abundance of early speed and squeeze Rail Trip from getting good early position. Then, maybe a horse like Tap it Light, can collar him just enough from behind, to tire him out and allow a horse like Awesome Gem, to come flying, with that big late run, and pick up the pieces, as he finally captures his first Grade 1 victory!      

08 Jul 2010 9:00 PM
Paula Higgins

Dr Drunkinbum great post and I couldn't agree more. This is a lovely post Steve. It is so nice to see a horse that is steady and reliable get some appreciation.

08 Jul 2010 9:01 PM
Brian Russell

I don't mean to be negative but all this affection for a horse that just picks up tired horses for minor placings illustrates why handle is down.  The fans are not bettors.  It is irrelevant how many fans racing has.  Bettors pay for the show and no better is a "fan" of this horse.

08 Jul 2010 9:18 PM

With all the speed, AG is actually a live bet.  It'd be nice to see him hit the board, even better if he wins it!

08 Jul 2010 9:20 PM

Awesome Gem's dam is by Pentelicus, one of my pref. broodmare sires. There was a mare by him at the '08 Barrett's sale in foal to High Brite.  I considered buying her, but decided to wait and buy yearlings instead (let someone else pay the 1st year fees, board and registration).  I rememeber that she didn't bring a bid (I think); recently she became a Stakes producer when her 2005 filly, Dotsy Jean won a small Stake at HP and now has over $300,000 in earnings for three years of racing.  This info was in my CTBA email today.  

Since Awesome Gem's dam is by Pentelicus, I think about the Pentelicus mares that I looked at and didn't buy ocassionally when I hear his name.  Pentelicus is from the family of Unbridled.  

08 Jul 2010 9:48 PM
Port Stanley

I beg to differ with the opinion of Brian Russell. The only bettors who don't like this horse are the ones that forgot to use him. He almost always hits the board and almost always at a price, sweetening up those exotics. What's not to like if you are betting?

08 Jul 2010 9:51 PM

Love horses like Awesome Gem. Perfect Drift was another that ran from coast to coast, dirt, turf, and multiple distances. I miss seeing him run but was thrilled when he was finally retired, happy and sound (at least I think he was sound). I was lucky and got to see Perfect Drift in person a fews times, and when he ran in the Pacific Classic with Lava Man, I was hoping for a dead heat (It could've happened) because I could not choose one over the other.  Oh well.  Anyway, I will be there this weekend, and because of your story Mr. Haskin, I will appreciate Awesome Gem even more than I already did.

08 Jul 2010 9:58 PM

Brian, that's true if we're actually blogging in an internet betting site.  This blog was written by Steve to appreciate Awesome Gem who has been a true warrior in contrast with the current generation of horses we have.

The betting fans will be at the track this weekend betting some money on Awesome Gem.  The rest that doesn't bet, will probably watch him run.  So even though I understand what you're saying, you've got the wrong audience to preach on how to save the sport.

Fans who don't bet may not be helping the sport but they sure aren't doing anything to make it worse.  I'm not even sure why you posted that here.

08 Jul 2010 10:07 PM

Hi Steve!

Another great post. You have such a talent for spotting those diamonds in the rough. Awesome Gem is one such horse, and this post reminded me much of the excellent chapter in your book "Tales from The Triple Crown" covering Jim French (Chapter 21 "A War Horse Named Jim French".  A wonderful story, with writing to match.  Worth adding as well - the chapter about Arts & Letters and Stagedoorjohnny and how they would race each other every day to the far tree in the paddock, during their dotage at Gainesway (GreenTree)Farm.  It is insightful writing like this that in my mind is the foundation upon which the future salvation of racing can be found. Keep up the great work. I am sure I am not the only one who looks forward to every one of your articles!

08 Jul 2010 10:18 PM

Dr Drunkinbum

Great post.  You could always get Draynay to be the farm manager.

08 Jul 2010 10:21 PM

I am also one of the owners of Awesome Gem.  Actually, Buzz Chace and I bought him at the Barretts Training sale in March, 2005 as a two year-old.  He had chips in both front ankles and had a slow work but looked and acted like a pretty nice little horse.  He's turned out to be the highest earner ever to wear our black and gold silks.  So, you can imagine we are all very proud and honored to have one like this in our midst.

I will tell you our West Coast head, Jeff Bloom is a former jockey - he worked Gem ten days ago and indicated he had never felt better.  So, you know he'll be running late and give us an honest effort.

Kudos to the partners and Craig.  Let's hope we can get him back to the BC this year for the fourth straight year.

08 Jul 2010 10:31 PM

Good to see that so many share with me a fondness for Awesome Jem.  I was introduced to Awesome Gem in the 2006-07 Strub series at Santa Anita.  I've been proclaiming for a while that the 06-07 Strub Series horses were an outstanding bunch, probably the deepest Strub Series crop since 94-95' and Wekiva Springs, Dramatic Gold, Dare and Go, and Strodes Creek.

Helsbelles already listed some of the 06-07 Strub horses, including Midnight Lute, Brother Derek, and another 7 year old still running an winning graded stakes, Arson Squad.  Another alumn from that Strub Series was Spring at Last, who would go on to win the gr.1 Donn and $1million Godolphin Mile.  

I will be attending Hollywood Park this Saturday and am grateful that horses like Awesome Gem, Richard's Kid, and Compari were entered.  The Cali handicap division took a big hit when Big Cap winner, Misremembered, went off in his training, prompting Baffert to stop on him.  Misremembered had been a good 3 year old, winning the gr.2 Swaps at Hollywood, the gr.2 Indiana Derby on dirt, and running 2nd by a neck to Blame in the Clark Cap on dirt.  

With Misremembered out of the picture, there was a real possibility that the Gold Cup field could have been a repeat of the subpar Mervyn LeRoy and Californian fields Rail Trip easily dusted.  Craig Dollace and West Point decided to roll the dice and re-route Awesome Gem from his Eastern campaign to give it a go in one of the most important handicap races our country has.  In addition to Awesome Gem, the Hollywood Gold Cup has attracted Baffert's gr.1 winner, Richard's Kid, and the speedy 6 for 8 Compari.  Rail Trip still appears the clear favorite, but it shouldn't be a walk in the park this time.  I wish a few of the Eastern barns would have sent a horse out.

08 Jul 2010 11:00 PM

How great is the history of the Hollywood Gold Cup?

Of the Bloodhorse's Top 100 of the 20th century, 14 of them won the Hollywood Gold Cup and an additional 9 more ran in the race.  That's 25, or a quarter of the Top 100 horses, that ran in the Hollywood Gold Cup.

The fields for Hollywood Gold Cup were particularly strong in the 80s and 90s.  Of the top 6 male horses of the 80s and 90s according to the Bloodhorse Top 100, 5 ran in the Hollywood Gold Cup.  These 5 include John Henry(23), Alysheba(42), Sunday Silence(31), Cigar(18), and Skip Away(32).  Of the top 6 male horses of the 80s and 90s, only Easy Goer(34) did not run in the Hollywood Gold Cup.

Other Top 100 horses to run in the Hollywood Gold Cup are Citation(3), Affirmed(12), Round Table(17), Swaps(20), Seabiscuit(25), Assault(33), Gallant Man(36), Challedon(38), Ack Ack(44), Dahlia(50), Native Diver(60), Noor(69), Hill Prince(75), Two Lea(77), Gamely(87), Bewitch(89), Exceller(96), and Foolish Pleasure(97).  

Other champions/top horses(in the book Champions) to run in the Hollywood Gold Cup: Kayak II, Next Move, Wistful, TV Lark, Nodouble, Cougar II, Ancient Title, J.O. Tobin, Temperance Hill, Perrault, Precisionist, Ferdinand, Blushing John, Criminal Type, Itallgreektome, Bertrando, Best Pal, Real Quiet.  

08 Jul 2010 11:18 PM

For most of the 90s and into the 2000s, the Hollywood Gold Cup produced some of the strongest winners' Beyers of any race.  The following are the Beyers for recent Hollywood Gold Cup winners:

90' Criminal Type- 120

91' Marquetry- 119 or 118

92' Sultry Song- 113

93' Best Pal- 117

94' Slew of Damascus- 113

95' Cigar- 118

96' Siphon- 117

97' Gentlemen- 121

98' Skip Away- 117

99' Real Quiet- 115

00' Early Pioneer- 112

01' Futural(dq'd)- 109

02' Sky Jack- 115

03' Congaree- 116

04' Total Impact- 109

05' Lava Man- 120

06' Lava Man- 109

07' Lava Man(synth)- 105

08' Mast Track(synth)- ? low 100s

09' Rail Trip(synth)- 111

I was on track for most of those races.  The Criminal Type-Sunday Silence duel in 90' remains as good a race as I've ver seen, Best Pal returning to the top of the West Coast in 93', Cigar's 95' tour de force that left no question about his status as the best horse in the world, Gentlemen's elegance in 97', Skip Away's power in defeating Gentlemen in 98', Sky Jack making it back from repeated injuries in 02', and Lava Man winning 3 in a row.  Hopefully, more great memories will be created this weekend.

08 Jul 2010 11:36 PM
Kit J

Da Gemster. He's a nice horse but I have one issue!

His name seems to be a girl's name. Diamonds and gems are a girls best friend after all.

How did you come up with that name?

09 Jul 2010 12:13 AM

These are exactly the kind of articles I wish there were more of.  I love to read about the horses that may not be the "stars" of the moment but have resumes that speak volumes.

I applaud his connections who aren't afraid to run him wherever he may fit in and haven't taken the easy path by any means.  They could just as easily be running him in lower graded or ungraded races, sticking to the tracks he likes the most, but we consistently see him in some of the better stakes throughout the country.

Just a nice, gritty, sound horse that I've personally appreciated for some time now.

Thanks for the "gem" of an article!  

09 Jul 2010 12:49 AM

GunBow : Nice post as always.  I've learned more about the sports history from reading the BH blogs than actually researching the net lol.  Thanks to you and Laz, Kay, Footlick, Slew who posts not just stats and numbers but also stories.  I've been going to the track for over 10 years but have never been one to remember the great races.  Reading yours and Laz's blogs made me regret not keeping those memories but everytime I see stories on here or when you guys posts past winners, the memories comes back and it's great!  

DaGemster : Good to see a proud owner blogging on here.  Congratulations on having a horse of Awesome Gems quality.  And yeah, kudos to Craig for keeping him healthy and still running with the big boys after all these years.  I wouldn't mind it one bit if he finishes behind my love Zenyatta in the Classic hehe.

09 Jul 2010 12:52 AM

TODAY, G E M reminds ME of the CLEVELAND, OHIO sports fans who lovingly pray for another WINNER! Yes, they lost their Akron, OH BB hero to Miami but that,s only part of the CRUSH. Sure, the economy will suffer somewhat and future cheers may be subdued. BUT, many just feel jilted and sore.

  BUT,they, like 'GEM will have another SPECIAL DAY! Time doesent heal sports wounds but success for us is a mitigator for a moment OR more. GO AWSOME, you give us your best now and be a  SHOW or better on Sat. Clev BB

fans deserve a CLOSER  <>> !


09 Jul 2010 5:46 AM


  be a mitigator1.


09 Jul 2010 5:48 AM

No matter what the level a horse that "shows up" for every race is to be admired. Thats all you can ask for.

09 Jul 2010 6:51 AM
Fran Loszynski

What a fine tribute Steve. It's the racehorses with heart that grab our hearts and it looks like Awesome Gem has yours. His true grit may surprise alot of people this weekend and he may be at the finish line.  After all it's a horse race and anything can happen. We always have to remember a racehorses's lineage can always kick in. He may be "Awesome Again"

I hope he wins for you Steve.

09 Jul 2010 7:58 AM


I love the way that you see a racehorse. They don't have to win every race.  They don't have to be the fastest, prettiest or best bred thing going today.  They just have to have heart.  Tenacity, grit & love of the game, all traits of Awesome Gem, are all the best qualities of a racehorse.  (Soundness not being forgotten here!) I love when you show appreciation to the triers, not just the winners.  He is a brilliant giver out there & I am always hoping that today will be THE DAY. No offense to Rail Trip, but I am hoping it again.

In a related story, I was so excited to see Winchester FINALLY cross that wire in front! Sorry that it had to be at the expense of Gio, whom I also admire, but.....  YEAH!

09 Jul 2010 9:45 AM
Ann in Lexington

Interesting that Eleven Stitches came up in this discussion; his sire Windy Sands was a similar to Awesome Gem as a racehorse. He beat Kelso a couple of times as a fall 2yo, won a couple of minor stakes, and ran second in the Hollywood Gold Cup, Sunset H, American H, Los Angeles H, and Manhattan H. Went on to sire Hollywood and Del Mar Oaks winner Sandy Blue and the redoubtable Crystal Water, who won the Californian, Santa Anita H, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Oak Tree Invitational, G1s from 1 1/16 to 1 1/2 miles.

09 Jul 2010 10:15 AM

Da Gemster - looking forward to seeing you tomorrow (I assume you'll be there). Awesome Gem is, obviously, really special, but I also have to give kudos to West Point TB and especially Jeff Bloom and Craig Dollase. They have managed this horse so well over the years. We haven't shied away from big races and great competition, but at the same time, they've picked the spots that are the right ones for him. It's been a great effort with a great horse. I live near Del Mar, so it will be good to have Gem down here soon, watch him train, and offer up some carrots.

09 Jul 2010 11:26 AM
Ted from LA

"I have a soft spot for older geldings."  ~Dr. Drunkinbum

This one writes itself, doctor.

09 Jul 2010 11:45 AM

I love Awesome Gem, especially his Breeders Cup Classic performance when he caught Street Sense for third...he is a good old man!

09 Jul 2010 12:20 PM
Fran Loszynski

To Brian Russell:

Alot of bettors are "fans" or become one.

Case in point: At the Belmont in 2005 we cheered as fans and bettors for Afleet Alex. Next to us were three construction guys toting cigars and race sheets up to the kazoo-they all bet on Giacomo and lost. I expected gruff words to be heard from them but they noticed a bunch of kids jumping up and down for Alex. Instead I heard "Geesh, lost this one, but you know what guys, -this is a special day for these kids." Have to take a look at this horse the next time!"

Yes, the bettors became fans. So you see Brian it is possible for Awesome Gem to have a cigar-toting-run the show "fan".

09 Jul 2010 2:12 PM

Gem is a trier, but having watched him all these years and betting on him too, all i can say is though he is a closer in route races he isn't a 1 1/4 horse. Only show bets people saturday folks. Bet on Compari he might be too tough to catch in this spot,well see.

09 Jul 2010 5:54 PM
Judy G Loves John Henry ~ California


Great article!

You know me! You know who my heart belongs to! JOHN HENRY, the old warrior gelding jumped into my heart and never left.

He started that soft spot in my heart for all the geldings. They have to earn the fans respect over and over and over to "prove themselves". God love 'em and keep them safe.

BTW John Henry has a proper place in heaven where he watchs over ALL geldings, ya know. ;-)

09 Jul 2010 6:21 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Ted from LA

  "in my heart" I know that if you bet the farm on Awesome Gem to show that you will be able to buy that milking cow that you so dearly want. As far as what he or she made, all I know for sure is that it all started with thoroughbreds, carrots, hay, oats, water, and apples. Then where it went haywire from there I don't know.

09 Jul 2010 6:51 PM
Mike Relva


Great article as usual. I agree w/you regarding this horse. Fans should take notice and give credit cause he's earned it.

09 Jul 2010 6:51 PM

The Gem is out of the Pentelicus mare Piano.  A few years ago I bought his half sister Madeline's Music (by Menifee) for my dad.  He raced her many times but she never got right physically (she has a bad tailbone which inhibited her training).  She is a big, beautiful mare who just dropped a Discreet Cat or Invasor foal, I can't remember which.  I am praying he turns out to be as good as Awesome Gem, a tribute to the sport.

09 Jul 2010 7:50 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

How about this workhorse, seven year old gelding Unbridled Danger, running in the 3rd race at Belmont this Sunday. He has 75 career starts. He's only won five times but a win in this spot would not surprise me. In fact I expect a win or a place. I hope I'm not spilling the beans on them sneaking him in here. 75 career starts, he definitely deserves a gold watch when he's done.

09 Jul 2010 9:38 PM

Mr. Haskin/Steve, this was a really nice bow to an excellent horse.  I've said before, and reiterate now, that the thing I love best about your writing is that you never fail to give due credit to the "also-rans" who always make the champions look good, but are so deserving of honors themselves... :-)

That's the dichotomy of horse-racing: you love to see the winners win but sad to see the hard-trying losers lose... <sigh>

In ref to your blogpost 2 back, "Beware of the Second Wave" - and I agree they're an impressive bunch - I'm looking at today's front-page picture of First Dude and thinking he looks like the most powerful 3-yo ever.  Positively magnificent-looking colt, way overdeveloped relative to his peers.  Can't speculate about this year, but I think he'll be the One to reckon with if he stays healthy (racing gods willing) next year.  As a 4yo, there'll be no concern about his ability at a distance as there is now with QR (one of the few top colts that could measure up in size/strength today).  I'm utterly enamored of him!  

[I sure hope "the commentor who shall not be named" who is touting First Dude jumps off quickly! LOL]

We really DO have an embarrassment of riches in this year's 3yo crop.  Unlike some others who denigrate the 3yos as a group, I think they're ALL exceptional and THAT is why there's no standout so far.

09 Jul 2010 10:10 PM
Patrick Adams

Horse shows up and fires almost everytime.  But lets call it what it is, this horse has hung badly through many races (Longacres Mile etc etc)..With a little bit more finish to him he could easily have made 4 million $$$ in his career.  He is a nice horse, but lets not get carried away.

09 Jul 2010 10:26 PM

Super good looking horse.  I would like to see him win this one; but mostly that he returns healthy and sound.  Maybe time to let him retire and run for fun in the pasture.

Be there tomorrow to find out

09 Jul 2010 11:39 PM
Matthew W

Lava Man's first Gold Cup, over dirt, with Pat Valenzuela up, was a tour'de force--as was Quack's '72 blow out--just after hanging vs Riva Ridge in the Hol Derby, Quack just ran lights out vs elders, in one of the greatest performances in horse racing history! I saw neither of these races in person--but I was on track, right at the wire on the apron, for the '77 Crystal Water/Cascapedia (the filly, losing by a neck) Caucasus/Ancient Title blanket finish---and the '78 Exceller (up the rail with Shoe Text/Vigors ("The White Tornado", drifting right in deep stretch)/JO Tobin "three noses on the wire" race---both were named race of the year in North America....

10 Jul 2010 1:27 AM
John C.

An encomium to a good horse and his connections who keep him doing what he was born to do! Thank you Steve for giving recognition to an old-school horse who is campaigned in an old-school style. Allen Jerkens said this week that the overly conservative campaigns of the top horses is hurting the sport. Mr. Jerkens is so right, and he should know- he is the chief. Perhaps more owners will be inspired to race horses as they once did when this was the sport of kings.

Hope to speak to you at Belmont tomorrow if you're there to see Gio Ponti.

10 Jul 2010 4:00 AM

Not a big fan of Westpoint TB, but you got to love how this horse competes night in and night out.  

10 Jul 2010 6:27 AM
Mike Relva


"Get carried away". Are you joking?  Give him his due!

10 Jul 2010 7:56 AM
Dawn in MN

Mr. Haskin, Thank you for this written picture of Awesome Gem.  It supports what I saw last summer.  I traveled from Minnesota to California for the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. It was an Awesome day of racing at a beautiful track.  As I pushed through the crowd to the paddock that day I climbed a stair end to get a good view. I snapped pictures of each horse entered for the Pacific Classic as they walked by.  

My trifecta picks were Einstein, Tres Borrachos and Awesome Gem.  They they were the ones that I thought looked good to go in the paddock.  When I put money on a horse, I'm placing a "vote" to win.  Serious bettors love idiots like me.  I dump money into the pool. I had to go back and watch an archive of Last year's Pacific Classic to remember why I lost money. The 2009 Pacific Classic was an all star line-up of


Song of Navarrone

Rail Trip

Richard's Kid

Mast Track

Colonel John


Global Hunter

Tres Borrachos



Awesome Gem.  

From the large field the longshot, Richard's Kid defeated Einstein by a narrow margin.  Awesome Gem would finish 7th, trapped in a herd of horses on the final turn. I always liked Awesome Gem thanks for reminding me how long he's been impressing me.    

10 Jul 2010 11:18 AM
new orleans lady

Good Luck, Awesome Gem!!!  Luv ya...

10 Jul 2010 5:11 PM
Patrick Adams


I gave him his due, he shows up and fires most of the time.  But pull up every race he has run and watch the video, you will find over a half a dozen races where you would have said he could not lose at the top of the lane and he refused to pass the leader.  His win in the Hawthorne Gold Cup is his ONLY win on other than an Allowance races in over 3 years.  Watch that Gold Cup race and you will see they were falling down in the lane, almost painful to watch the stretch drive.  Not taking anything away from his longetivity, which is not commonplace these days, but anyone who really evaluates the races he has run will call the career what it is, nice, but not quite top notch.

10 Jul 2010 7:26 PM

Yes yes yes!!! Awesome Gem got it!!!!!

10 Jul 2010 7:54 PM

Steve! What timing! You're a genius!

10 Jul 2010 7:55 PM

Appropriate piece and an AWESOME performance.  Maybe you're a goodluck charm Steve.  I wonder if there'll be a bag of carrots on your doorstep in the morning.

10 Jul 2010 7:55 PM

He did it! Hahaha shaking right now! GO GEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow.... talk about final strides. What a great way to get a G1 and what a horse to beat to do it. But... does this say something, that Zenyatta beat this horse, and he beat Rail Trip... lol, I had to go there. Awesome race, Awesome Gem.

10 Jul 2010 7:56 PM
Virgil Fox


What a battle.

10 Jul 2010 7:56 PM
New Orleans Lady

WOOOOHOOOO!!! He did it!!! Totally Awesome!!! Even tho' he had the perfect trip, in the stretch he got stuck behind the #2 horse, but took a jump and got up for the win...great job, old boy! You finally did it!

10 Jul 2010 8:00 PM
Mike Relva


So,how did he do today? Are you feeling him now? lol

10 Jul 2010 8:01 PM

AWESOME GEM GOT HIS GROOVE ON!!!!!  ALRIGHT!  Like I said, I'm always hoping today will be THE DAY! Congratulations to all involved but I cannot express my delight that Awesome Gem has that Grade I victory on his resume'. & to defeat Rail Trip at such a peak in his career....

EXCELLENT!  This made my day today.  

10 Jul 2010 8:10 PM
Ida Lee

OMG! I have no voice. When I saw AG go to the rail and he fired like he had a rocket on his butt, I could not stop yelling GO GO GO!! Unbelievable excitement!! If you don't mind, I'm going to change the first sentence of your article: "He is Awesome and a Gem". Way to go Big Boy!!!

10 Jul 2010 8:12 PM
Steve Haskin

How about that old boy, huh?

10 Jul 2010 8:13 PM


You must be psychic! Awesome Gem accelerated like a Ferrari to take the lead and hold off Rail Trip. Poor RT had to run as wide as Zenyatta frequently does, but he just wasn't able to run down the leader.

This race and Blind Luck's "win by a nostril" in the Delware Oaks were the best ones today.

10 Jul 2010 8:14 PM

Or should I say you're prescient AND a genius!

10 Jul 2010 8:14 PM

OH MY GOSH!!!! How great is this??

I just found out that George Washington's ONLY girl, Date With Destiny WON her maiden debut.  Now I am really flying high!  That is a tear-jerker there.  God rest his valiant soul, his little girl is trying to fill Daddy's shoes.

10 Jul 2010 8:15 PM

I am so happy for him!!!!!!!!!!!  Wonderful entry, as always.  

10 Jul 2010 8:18 PM
Steve Haskin

DistyWhipp, for whatever it's worth, the 2nd, 3rd, and 7th-place finishers in last year's BC Classic all won grade/group I stakes in the past week -- Awesome Gem, Gio Ponti, and Twice Over, and the 6th-place finisher -- Richard's Kid -- finished a close third in a grade I.

And on the other side of the coin, just like last year, a horse destroyed by Rachel Alexandra came right back to win a grade I stakes -- Jessica is Back in the Princess Rooney.

10 Jul 2010 8:23 PM

That was just awesome..your article and then the beautiful red horse battling for his grade 1 doesn't get much better than that.

10 Jul 2010 8:25 PM

Your wonderful article brought the old warrior luck. As you said he slways tries his best.  That is all you can ask of anyone is to give your all.  He and his connections deserved the win.  I was screaming his name all the way. I probably have pulled for Rail Trip had iat not been for your story.

10 Jul 2010 8:43 PM
Steve Haskin

I like Rachel's conclusions the best :)

btw, I have so much more on this horse -- the human interest stories behind him, especially one, but am waiting to to use it. It will be used at some point, I can assure you.

10 Jul 2010 8:44 PM

Thanks for pointing that out, Steve. :)

And Date With Destiny won?! That's awesome! Her story is amazing, and her name is perfect. Maybe she will go on to greatness in the memory of her sire. I sure hope she does....

10 Jul 2010 8:45 PM

Early this morning I posted something that disappeared in cyberspace. It said: "Go Gem! Go Westpoint!" Boy, was I screaming when I saw the old guy dart to the fence and take off the way he did. I have nothing against Rail Trip, he's a wonderful horse but I was screeching "Beat him, Gem! Beat him! Gem!Gem!Gem!ARGH!!!!!"

Congratulations all around. What a great win!

Mr. Haskin,

I often bet with my heart, something I'm trying to correct. If it wasn't for your beautiful article, I probably would have talked myself out of betting for this wonderful warrior. Your post reinforced my feelings for the Gem and I bet him to win. This time, my bet AND my heart were on the same page. Thank you for a very nice payout!

10 Jul 2010 8:49 PM
Pam S.


I think your blog tribute pushed this much-loved horse over the top today!  Aewsome Gem must have read it and been touched to learn he had so many fans.  Rail Trip will win lots of races, I'm sure, but I'm just so glad that the old guy got his Grade 1.  I don't even know why we keep calling him old; heck, he doesn't look a day over 5!

10 Jul 2010 8:50 PM
Virgil Fox

The Princess Rooney was also a great race.

Very impressive.

10 Jul 2010 8:51 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

How was that for a humdinger? Impeccable timing Steve. It turned out to be "one of these days," for the old timer, Awesome Gem. Steve-I loved seeing Kramden on your show but was dissapointed in Lenny's question. We don't need NBC to show the race prior to The Derby, we just need for them to allow the simulcast to be seen instead of having a monopoly so that those that aren't at the track can watch the race, just like any other race in America. And I believe it was a Grade One that was blocked from being seen everywhere.

10 Jul 2010 9:01 PM

Steve, I really do believe your blog article here called down a blessing on Awesome Gem = you had many more people cheering him on than he would've had otherwise; and the RG's always take note of that when the intent is pure and unselfish.

Of all the races today, the HGC had the most satisfying outcome, and you played a big part in that.  Thank you!

p.s. - looking forward to the WHOLE story & hope you write it soon.

10 Jul 2010 9:05 PM

Hey Steve! He might not be What?... lol"Awesome did you say? just kidding, between your gem of an article and the fans on here the gem might have just read this and said "hey,I'm gonna bring it home for these guys" I'm so happy I'm writing deliriously here.

10 Jul 2010 9:08 PM
John T

Yes it,s true,Awesome Gem,Gio Ponti,Twice Over,all won grade or group one races this past week and

Richard,s Kid ran a respectable third in a grade one.When we think

how Zenyatta came flashing by them all in the Breeders Cup Classic,she

must surely be a mare for the ages.

10 Jul 2010 9:53 PM
Kit J

Thank YOU Steve and Da Gemster! Also a big talker on the other blog who called me out for liking AG because of this blog and what DG said? I bet big on AG and I'm a happy camper!

10 Jul 2010 9:58 PM

Steve, if I ever own a racehorse I am going to do my best to get you to do an article featuring it just before it runs a big race.  Good call. Awesome Gem a deserving winner today.

10 Jul 2010 10:12 PM

I guess he really is Awesome but you have "awesome" timing Steve.  Don't you just love it when a horse with such heart pulls through like that.  I saw AG at Charlestown earlier this year and he looked great then - even more impressive today.  And Blind Luck! Wow, she's a heart stopper.  Very pleased for Gio Ponti too.  Except for D'Funnybone, it was a great group of races today.

10 Jul 2010 10:17 PM

Exactly, John T! Zenyatta is my favorite racehorse, and she is the best. Love that mare! Congratulations to Awesome Gem on his win! Always been a fan of that old boy.

10 Jul 2010 10:18 PM

A great day for racing! I am so glad for AG and his connections. A deserving win. I picked him to win also.

10 Jul 2010 10:27 PM

WOOT WOOT! AG just WON the HGC! 2:03.31 for for the mile and a quarter? WHO CARES! a win is a win, and have a look at the field he beat, lol. Not bad for an old fart eh? AG is a horse that never makes excuses. Run on!

10 Jul 2010 10:32 PM

Lets see here,  And the Zenyatta naysayers are saying what? about the group of males she beat in the BCC??   Hmmmmmmmm

10 Jul 2010 10:32 PM

Awesome Gem took the "rail trip" to win the HGC!

10 Jul 2010 10:58 PM

Steve : Can you write an article about me and something about the megamillion lotto.  If the magic works, I promise I'll give you 10%.

Was that wild or what ?!?!  Congrats to DaGemster and everyone in AG's connections.  Tell Craig he deserves this win more than anyone, he stood by him all this time...okay, maybe just a lil bit more than the partners lol.  You all deserved it!  Keep him healthy and looking forward to him dethroning RK in the PC!

10 Jul 2010 11:08 PM

What fun! Was screaming and jumping around, tears streaming down, scared Sammy(my horse loving cat) to pieces!  I think this was one of my favorite stories because it had such a dream ending. That old warrior winning just made my day! Really, really great fun. This is what it's all about for us fans. Sometimes the good guys do win and today was all about Awesome Gem.

10 Jul 2010 11:37 PM

Awesome Gem looked really sharp in the paddock.  He's not a huge horse, but he is really well put together, and looked primed.  It was a weird race, but he beat two other gr.1 horses in Rail Trip and Richard's Kid.

I love that I lieterally was a foot away from Awesome Gem when he was walking around the enclosed saddling area (closest to Grandstand enterance).  I wanted to reach out and give him a pet, but I know that's a no-no.

Great forsight Steve.

11 Jul 2010 12:16 AM
Afleet Treet


Not sure if you remember us bgut we actuallymet you at "100 to Go" in Arcardia after the Breeder's Cup Ladies Day...we met you and a friend there during a wild Karaoke contest and you and I sat and "handicapped" who we liked for Classic day! We have a picture of it up that our British friends took on should swing by and say hello...We loved meeting you and your friend and were wondering how we would ever find you guys again!Glad to see you here and glad to see that you love Gem as much as I go! I have been a fan of his for years and always will be!

Hope they give him carrots for me!!

Congrats Gemster, Craid and WPTB!!

You are all class acts and I am happy to have had a chance to meet a few of you. Would LOVE to see Gemsteer up in my neck of the woods again for the LOongacres Mile but of course I'll be a fan forever, no matter where he runs!


Congrats West Point!!

11 Jul 2010 2:45 AM


11 Jul 2010 5:02 AM


11 Jul 2010 5:25 AM


11 Jul 2010 5:44 AM
Thunder Mama

I wish I had read this article before watching the race, congrats to the old warrior who still has fire in the furnace. He looked so proud returning the winner's circle.

11 Jul 2010 7:23 AM

Steve, perhaps your story boosted AG's connection's confidence... For the stars the attention can be rattling to people, but to undervalued gems, it can be a song in the heart. Congratulations to Awesome Gem and his connections!

11 Jul 2010 7:24 AM
A Canadian Fan

When I read your article on Awesome Gem, Steve, I was convinced that, after such an honest "portrait" of this great gelding, there was no way that he wouldn't win yesterday. I could only get the race on BH replay after the fact, but I was screaming as he jumped to the rail and accelerated, just like I was watching it live. An amazing fellow that has lived up to your heartfelt words of praise. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. BTW, I think you have a "protegé" in Esther Marr. Her writing style is beginning to look much like yours - just plain honest and from the heart. Thanks again, Steve. Keep running, Awesome Gem!

11 Jul 2010 7:33 AM
da gemster

What a great day for the partners yesterday.  Can I give Steve Haskin a list of horses to write about over the next six months?

11 Jul 2010 8:07 AM

Congratulations, can certainly pick winners.  Awesome Gem was a pure delight.

My biggest regret is, not having seen the race live, I cannot find any rerun of the race that includes the post parade.  In the post parade, the lead pony was supposed to have been LAVA MAN, that multi-millionaire in his 2nd career...and I have been itching to see him.  Does anyone know any re-play that includes the post parade?

And I'm thrilled for Gio Ponti.  It's been touch and go since Meydan.  It looks like he's back, and looking every inch a champion.

One thing that amazed me was the exacta in the sprint paid $3 less than singling Coffee Boy who paid $10.

Does anyone else find it amazing that the only horse family

that had adopted a "surname" is that of Seattle Slew...Pica Slew, Jody Slew, Denali Slew, Slew City Slew, Solar Slew, etc, etc?

Now I have to go find tapes of Lava Man.

11 Jul 2010 9:19 AM

I really have to add...strategy went awry yesterday as all the intended "rabbits" got stuck in the gate and changed the complexion of every race they were in...upset..upset..upset.

11 Jul 2010 9:37 AM

Can't blame AG for the "walk-in-the-park" one wanted to move...for a moment there I thought the horses in the next race might actually catch them ;-)

Awesome Again sons had a really good day:

AWESOME GEM, 1st Hollywood Gold Cup H. (G1)

Everyday Heroes, 1st James B. Moseley Sprint Stakes

Sangaree, 2nd Triple Bend H. (G1)

11 Jul 2010 10:02 AM

Prescient and profound, Mr Haskins.

Yes, well done to all - Craig Dollase for his training and the very underrated David Flores for bringing him up through traffic against a very slow pace.

However, Patrick Adams, I believe you should go back and check the video of the 2009 Longacres Mile.  Assessment's final time was a very fast 1:33 and 2/5ths.  Assessment passed the fast lead horse, Atta Boy Roy by swinging from the rail to the outside and galloped.  Awesome Gem did not "hang", as you stated.  With Russell Baze aboard, he came charging down the lane to miss by half a length, but, he continued rolling past Assessment.  This was not hanging, but, another example of Southern California horses finding the speed of the locals at the flat mile to not be dismissed.  Even Slewledo taught some very fast So Cal horses that lesson.  Ah, those Slew boys, Slewledo and Slew of Damascus, some fine turn of foot, they.

But, thanks, Matthew W and Lazz, for reminding of me of being able to see the fine running of both Eleven Stiches and Kilijaro.  I believe she won the Yellow Ribbon, eh?  And to the fine lady, who wrote of Windy Sands.  Saw and bet many of his git.  This is another reason the erudite Haskins' blogs are so interesting.  They bring out the true fans who have excellent memories of why we all so love this great endeavor.  Yes, and "Whoohoo, to you, New Orleans Lady".  Plus, Lazz, tell us a little about Cabrini Green from those John Henry PPs.  He used to be a good bar bet.

11 Jul 2010 10:34 AM

@Slew, are you sure Tres B got stuck in the gate?  Or was he caught by one of the saloon swinging doors?

11 Jul 2010 10:36 AM

BTC: whatever the reason, the intended rabbits were all the last out of the gate and a few lengths behind the field, then could not catch back up.  Of course, he might have been downing that last sip of Tequila to cause the delay.

11 Jul 2010 11:11 AM


The forsight and insight of this column demonstrates why you're one of the best racing journalists around. Just AWESOME.

11 Jul 2010 1:04 PM


Geez…..Don’t ask me how I managed to get some info on Cabrini Green, but I did though it’s very limited.  He was foaled in ’75, (by King’s Bishop out of Pat’s Irish, by Tudor Minstrel), had a record of 38-15-8-3 and earned $239K.  He won two stakes, the Southern Hospitality at the FG and the Sugar Bowl Hdcp also at FG.  This is where he gets interesting…….he faced or at least defeated John Henry 4 times, more than any other horse……in The Southern Hospitality stakes, a $7K allowance, the Sugar Bowl Hdcp and another $7K allowance, all at FG.  John wasn’t exactly a world beater back then and in their last two meetings he was 16-1 and 22-1.  I guess this was enough for John’s owners at the time to consider him a claimer and after one more allowance loss John’s next three races were in 20-25K claimers (he lost them all), and then an allowance which he also lost.  It was then time for a trainer change (maybe an owner change as well) and he was back in claimers where he turned it around winning the first two and then an allowance.  Needless to say John was on his way and never raced for a tag again and the rest is history.

Cabrini Green, the horse who dominated him so easily (much the same way Noor dominated Citation), didn’t have the same success.  He was primarily a sprinter and eventually ended up at Churchill Downs where he ran third in the Churchill Downs Hdcp to Trimlea and 2nd in the Phoenix to Shelter Half (the race went in 1.09).

Cabrini Green later went to stud and sired quite a few horses.  His most successful was a horse that won many stakes at Woodbine, Mr. Epperson….62-19-7-8….$1,032,331.  If you’re reading this Jermon, Mr. Epperson’s dam, Cut the Twinkle, is by the Axe ll.

Regarding Kilijaro, she did win the Yellow Ribbon in ’80 getting the 1-1/4 miles in a snappy 1.59.1.  She also won the Matriarch G1 defeating Glorious Song (another I used to watch in the old days at Woodbine).  She won a total of 7 stakes in N/A and another 4 including 2 Group Ones in Europe.

11 Jul 2010 3:03 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you all.

A follow-up blog on Awesome Gem should be up in about 15-20 minutes. I've been saving this for the right time, and this looks as good a time as any.

11 Jul 2010 4:00 PM

Thanks to Sidekickflats I found out that although Lava Man was supposed to be lead pony, he was under the weather and did not.  I figured there would have been more coverage if he had been there.

12 Jul 2010 2:07 AM

Must have missed commenting on this one the first go-round due to the circumstances with our doggie at the time, but now that I've had a chance to read it and enjoy the - thank you again, Steve.  I did get to see the race and thought it great that Awesome Gem won it as he did - congratulations to all his connections.  

Another wonderful thing about your blogs, Steve, is how you draw the comments from those who've been around racing for a long time and can share their memories.  Thanks, Laz, Bert, Rangulzion, Deacon and all of you who contribute so much to my learning about and appreciation of horse racing.



26 Jul 2010 8:14 PM

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