Awesome Gem, a 7-year-old veteran with nearly $2-million in earnings, will make his next start in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 10, trainer Craig Dollase confirmed Thursday.
“That’s the plan,” said Dollase. “He’s been doing well since he got back from Lone Star Park.”
Awesome Gem, a chestnut gelding owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, finished second in his last start in the Grade III Lone Star Park Handicap May 31, his 13th runner-up finish in 35 starts. He has won six times and earned $1,974,682.
A Kentucky-bred by Awesome Again, Awesome Gem launched his career at Hollywood Park on July 9, 2006. He has since won a pair of Grade II stakes – the 2007 San Fernando at Santa Anita and the 2009 Hawthorne Gold Cup in Illinois – and finished second in three Grade I stakes, the 2007 Goodwood at Santa Anita as well as the 2008 Pacific Classic and 2009 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar. He was also third in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park.
Regular rider David Flores, who won the Gold Cup with Marquetry in 1991 and Siphon in 1996, has the call. Dollase has never won the race but came agonizingly close twice: in 2001, when Futural was disqualified from first to third for interference in the stretch; and in 2002, when Momentum finished second, a nose behind Sky Jack.
Defending champion Rail Trip is expected to head the lineup in the Grade I Gold Cup at 1 ¼ miles on Cushion Track.
Globetrotting trainer Carl O’Callaghan was back in the stable area here Thursday morning, applying the finishing touches to Princess Haya for the $100,000 Grade III Beverly Hills Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles on turf Saturday.
O’Callaghan returned Wednesday night from England, where he had spent the past two weeks with star sprinter Kinsale King, who finished third in the Grade I Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 19.
Princess Haya, a 5-year-old mare, drew post three in a field of eight under high weight of 117 pounds in the Beverly Hills. A Grade II winner at Woodbine last year, Princess Haya finished a distant seventh in the Grade I Gamely Stakes in her second California start May 29.
“She came out of the Gamely with a bad lung infection,” said O’Callaghan. “She’s had two good works since she’s come back. I think you will see the real Princess Haya this time.”
O’Callaghan has also taken blinkers off, another factor that he thinks will help the mare in the Beverly Hills.
O’Callaghan, who returns to London next week, outlined an ambitious and scenic schedule for the well-traveled Kinsale King, a 5-year-old gelding who won the Vernon Underwood Stakes here and the Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita last winter before being shipped to Dubai to capture the Group I Golden Shaheen Stakes in March.
“He proved he can run on turf, he can run in a straight line and he can run with the best of them,” said O’Callaghan of Kinsale King’s encouraging grass debut at Royal Ascot.
“I left him there for the Darley July Cup July 9 at Newmarket,” said O’Callaghan. “Then I will bring him back and get him ready for races in Japan in September and Hong Kong in October. Then in November, it will be either Melbourne or the Breeders’ Cup.”
Trainer Marty Jones hopes Sunday to duplicate a feat accomplished only by his father: winning the Robert Kerlan Memorial Handicap with a female.
The younger Jones will send out Unzip Me, a 4-year-old filly, against six males in the $60,000-added race at six furlongs on turf.
Gary Jones, Marty’s retired father, saddled the 4-year-old filly Cool Air to victory in the 1994 edition, the only time a distaffer has won the race.
“I worked for my dad at that time and was with that filly,” said Jones Thursday. “I went to the Laurel Dash with her when she finished second to Soviet Problem. The girls ran one-two against the boys that day.”
Unzip Me, a front-runner riding a five-race winning streak, will make her first start against males. She will be ridden by Joe Talamo and carry 116 pounds, seven less than highly regarded Australian import Scenic Blast.
“I really don’t want to take the boys on, but it’s the only race I can run in unless I want to run her long, which I don’t,” explained Jones candidly.
Unzip Me breezed three furlongs on the main track in 38.60 seconds.
Senorita Stakes winner Cozi Rosie and Providencia Stakes winner City to City head a list of 11 3-year-old fillies nominated to the $250,000 American Oaks July 3.
Also nominated to the Grade I test at 1 ¼ miles on turf are Andina, Antares World, Conniption, Crisp, Empire Spring, Hard Way Ten, Harmonious, Taro and Weekend Magic.
The American Oaks tops a lineup of four graded stakes scheduled on Fourth of July weekend. Also on tap are the $150,000 Grade II Royal Heroine Mile on July 3, the $150,000 Grade II American Handicap on July 4, and the $100,000 Grade III Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 5.
FINISH LINES—Joe Talamo has taken a call back to ride J P’s Gusto, an impressive winner of the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes on May 31, in the Hollywood Juvenile at six furlongs for trainer David Hofmans. Talamo will be in New York on July 3 to ride I Want Revenge in the $300,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park…Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Martin Garcia will take their show on the road to Iowa this weekend. The pair will team with Wynning Ride in the $100,000 Iowa Distaff Friday and Concord Point in the $250,000 Iowa Derby and Mythical Power in the $250,000 Prairie Meadows Breeders’ Cup Handicap on Saturday. Baffert also said that Rapport, an impressive allowance winner here, would make her next start in the $250,000 Grade I Prioress Stakes at Belmont on July 4…Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be at Woodbine on July 4 to ride Giant’s Tomb for Mark Frostad in the $1-million Queen’s Plate…Trainer Mark Glatt reported that Leroy’s Dynameaux, upset winner of the $100,000 Grade III Will Rogers Stakes Sunday, came back in good order and will remain on the grass at Del Mar, probably returning in the La Jolla Handicap August 14…Acclamation, winner of the Jim Murray and Charles Whittingham Memorial handicaps this meet, worked one mile on turf with jockey Christian Santiago-Reyes as trainer Don Warren and owner Bud Johnston watched. Johnston said the $750,000 United Nations Handicap at Monmouth and the $100,000 Sunset Handicap here July 18 are under primary consideration. The Hollywood Gold Cup has also been discussed.
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