Wednesday, April 11, 2012


ALBANY -- The 9-year-old gelding Awesome Gem, a multiple graded stakes-winner of $2,738,270, will make his 2012 debut Thursday at Golden Gate Fields in a one-mile turf race.

The $38,500 allowance event for 3-year-olds and up is a prep for the $150,000 San Francisco Mile, which will be run Saturday, April 28. The Grade 3 SF Mile is Northern California’s top grass race.

Due to the recent rains and the forecast for more precipitation, it is possible
Thursday’s feature will be moved off the turf and onto Golden Gate Fields’ synthetic Tapeta racing surface. Awesome Gem has raced twice on the Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields and performed well both times, finishing second in the Grade 3 All American Stakes in 2008 and third in the Grade 3 Berkeley in 2009.

Awesome Gem will be making his first start since Oct. 1, when he finished second in the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita. Awesome Gem lost the Goodwood by a half-length to Game On Dude, a multiple Grade 1 stakes-winner.

Awesome Gem is based at Santa Anita, trained by Craig Dollase and owned by West Point Thoroughbreds. Jockey Russell Baze will ride Awesome Gem, tabbed as the 7-to-5 morning-line favorite by Golden Gate Fields odds maker Steve Martinelli.

The field for Thursday’s main event, in post position order, is as follows: Awesome Gem, Baze rides at 117 pounds, 7-to-5; Honour the Deputy, Frank Alvarado, 117, 8-to-1;
Positive Response, Aaron Gryder, 117, 2-to-1; Mr. Candy Bar, Inoel Beato, 117, 12-to-1; and Dunmore East, Kerwin John, 119, 3-to-1.

Positive Response, winner of the 2011 California Derby, should be set for a top effort as the 4-year-old gelding will be making his third start following a long layoff. Trained by William E. Morey, Positive Response has five wins in 11 starts and is coming off a solid second-place try in a one-mile allowance race on March 18.

Post time for Thursday’s seven-race card is 12:45 p.m. The feature is the third race and is scheduled to be run at 1:45 p.m.

Russian Greek In Toyota Blue Grass Stakes -- Russian Greek, the 2012 California Derby winner, is among the 13 horses entered in Saturday’s Grade 1 $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.

Formerly trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Russian Greek will be saddled Saturday by Gennadi Dorochenko. Dorochenko will also start Hero of Order, who on April 1 won the Louisiana Derby at odds of 109-to-1.

Hansen, winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and most recently the Gotham Stakes on March 3, is the 6-to-5 morning line favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass. Russian Greek, who is coming off an eighth-place finish in the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on March 24, is 50-to-1. Hero of Order is 12-to-1.

The other major Kentucky Derby prep Saturday is the $1 million Arkansas Derby, a Grade 1 event at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. The 1 1/8-mile race attracted a field of 11, including the Bob Baffert-trained favorites Bodemeister (9-to-5) and Secret Circle (5-to-2).

Golden Gate Fields will simulcast the Blue Grass Stakes and the Arkansas Derby.

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