ALBANY -- The classy 9-year-old gelding Awesome Gem, a multi-millionaire, made a winning 2012 debut Thursday at Golden Gate Fields when he captured the $38,500 feature race.

Awesome Gem won the one-mile allowance contest by a half-length over 2011 California Derby champ Positive Response. The race, a prep for the $150,000 San Francisco Mile on April 28, was originally scheduled to be run on the turf but was moved to Golden Gate Fields’ synthetic Tapeta racing surface due to the recent rains.

Awesome Gem, ridden by Russell Baze, rallied from fourth in a field of five to earn his 10th career victory. Timed in 1:38.75, Awesome Gem paid $3.80 as the 4-to-5 favorite.

Awesome Gem is trained by Craig Dollase and owned by West Point Thoroughbreds. The old warrior earned $23,100, a payday that boosted his career earnings to $2,761,370.
Awesome Gem leads all active American thoroughbred racehorses in money won.

The San Francisco Mile is Northern California’s top turf race and Dollase said before Thursday’s race that Santa Anita-based Awesome Gem would return to Golden Gate Fields to contest the Grade 3 stakes.

Gryder Wins Four Races -- Jockey Aaron Gryder rode four winners Thursday. The crafty veteran won the first race with Rachel Raccoon ($6.00), the fourth with Royal Import ($5.20), the sixth with Cazadero ($3.80), and the seventh with Red Dwarf ($5.00).