Tuesday, May 29, 2012
AWESOME GEM AWARDED BERKELEY HANDICAP WIN WHEN POSITIVE RESPONSE IS DISQUALIFIED
ALBANY -- Positive Response crossed the wire first in the $100,000 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields Monday but it was runner-up Awesome Gem who was ultimately declared the winner of the Grade 3 stakes for older horses.
Positive Response defeated Awesome Gem by three-quarters of a length in the 1 1/16-mile contest but was disqualified from first and placed fourth by the stewards for interfering with fourth-place finisher Anthony’s Cross in deep stretch.
Jockey Julien Couton rode Positive Response, who took the lead from pacesetter Michael the Man at the top of the stretch and then just held off the closing charge of Awesome Gem. While digging in down the stretch, Positive Response drifted in and caused Anthony’s Cross to have to check. Anthony’s Cross was beaten a neck for third by Hudson Landing.
“He drifted out in the stretch so I switched the stick to my right hand and he came in a little,” said Couton. “I drifted in a little bit but I don’t know if I cost anyone a better placing. I think he was the best horse in the field. It’s just bad luck.”
Jockey Aaron Gryder rode Awesome Gem, who ran a big race considering he rallied from last into very soft fractions (:50.78 for the half-mile and 1:15.09 for six furlongs) and missed by less than a length.
“The pace was slow but I didn’t want to take him out of his game,” said Gryder. “Rather than jam him up there, I decided to let him get into his stride and save ground. The pace was a lot to overcome but he’s a very classy horse and showed it today.”
Gryder shifted Awesome Gem to the outside in the stretch and found clear sailing.
“I was very fortunate,” said Gryder. “There was a lot of bumping and squeezing going on in front of me in the stretch but we were able to avoid it. He worked himself out a trip.”
Awesome Gem, trained by Craig Dollase, is the nation’s richest active thoroughbred racehorse. The 9-year-old gelding earned $60,000 for first-place in the Berkeley and the payday boosted his career earnings to $2,821,370.
“I’d rather be lucky than good sometimes in this business and that was the case today,” said Dollase. “He made his run but came up a little short. For him to close off those slow fractions and get up for second was incredible. But he’s an incredible horse. He was the recipient of a good situation.”
Awesome Gem was the 3-1 favorite and paid $8.00. The race was run in 1:45.82.
Racing will resume at Golden Gate Fields Friday with a twilight card that begins at 3:15 p.m.
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