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Jul 16, 2010

Awesome Gem edges Rail Trip to win Hollywood Gold Cup


Inglewood, CA (Sports Network) - Awesome Gem, ridden by David Flores, found room along the rail and was able to hold off defending champ Rail Trip to capture Saturday's $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park.

The seven-year-old chestnut gelding was sent off as the 8-1 fourth choice in the six-horse field. Rail Trip was the 2-5 favorite, and 2009 Pacific Classic winner Richard's Kid was the 4-1 second pick.

Awesome Gem, trained by Craig Dollase, was never far off the pace that was being set by Compari in the 1 1/4-mile race. Rail Trip and jockey Rafael Bejarano found themselves on the outside in fourth as the field went up the backstretch.

Around the final turn, Rail Trip began his rally three wide with Awesome Gem sitting right behind Compari as the field entered the stretch. Rail Trip took the lead at the top of the stretch as Awesome Gem edged past Compari along the inside.

Awesome Gem and Rail Trip battled down the stretch to the finish. Awesome Gem posted a half-length victory over the defending champ to record his first victory of the year. Richard's Kid finished third followed by Tres Borrachos, Compari and Cigar Man.

The time for the Gold Cup was 2:03.31 on Hollywood's sythetic track.

Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Awesome Gem went past the $2 million mark in career earnings. The Gold Cup win was worth $300,000 to bring the gelding's lifetime bankroll to $2,274,682. He has won seven of 36 career starts.

"This horse can run over anything," noted the winning trainer. "Synthetic, grass, mud, you name it. He's very versatile and a real pleasure to train. This means a lot. A lot of work. My help and everybody have been real supportive.

"The owners have been real patient and given this horse time when he has needed it. He's like fine wine. He's just getting better with age. He's in his prime right now."

Awesome Gem had not won a race before Saturday since last October's Hawthorne Gold Cup at Hawthorne Race Course.

The victory is the third Gold Cup win for Flores. He won the race in 1991 with Marquetry and five years later aboard Siphon.

Awesome Gem returned $18.00, $4.40 and $2.40. Rail Trip paid $2.20 and $2.10, and Richard's Kid paid $2.20 to show.

Earlier in the day on the East Coast, a pair of top thoroughbreds came from off the pace to capture stakes races.

Leading three-year-old filly Blind Luck won a photo finish at Delaware Park to win the $250,000 Delaware Oaks. Ridden by Joel Rosario, Blind Luck covered the 1 1/16-miles in 1:43.34 on a sloppy track.

The winner of this year's Kentucky Oaks came from well off the pace to edge Havre de Grace at the wire. Derwin's Star finished third in the seven horse field followed by No Such Word, Worship the Moon, Calypso Queen and Listen In.

Trained by co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer, Blind Luck notched her eighth career victory in 12 starts. The Oaks win was worth $150,000 to bring her lifetime earnings to $1,538,712.

"She got away a little slow and sometimes she does that," said Hollendorfer. "I honestly was hoping she would have been a little closer. You know the good ones just find a way to get there. I mean she has been beaten before, but she is a very good filly and she just finds a way there. We are very grateful and very thankful. Joel (Rosario) is a very strong rider and he is one of the strongest finishers in the country. We are still looking at the Alabama (at Saratoga on August 21) for her next start."

Blind Luck paid $2.40, $2.20 and $2.10. Havre de Grace returned $3.60 and $2.80, and Derwin's Star paid $4.60 to show.

At Belmont Park, Gio Ponti successfully defended his crown in the $600,000 Man o'War for his first victory of the year. Approaching the furlong pole, Gio Ponti and rider Ramon Dominguez were four-lengths off the lead in the grass race. He came charging down the stretch to catch Mission Approved and win by a neck.

Rounding out the order of finish was 6-1 second choice Expansion followed by Bearpath, Midnite Silver, Interpatation, Grand Couturier and Strike a Deal.

The time for the 1 3/8-miles was 2:16.20 on a firm turf course.

Gio Ponti returned $2.80, $2.30 and $2.10. Mission Approved paid $17.80 and $7.40, and Expansion paid $2.80 to show.

The five-year-old, trained by Clement Christophe, was voted 2009 champion male turf horse as well as champion older thoroughbred male. He began 2010 with a third-place result in the Tampa Bay Stakes. In March he was third in the Dubai World Cup and last month was second in the Manhattan at Belmont Park.

"As a trainer, you get very excited when you train a horse as good as he is and you go into Grade 1 races, because he just trains so well and you know he's so good," said Clement. "So for me, and for my crew at the barn, it's very exciting to run that kind of horse. We are lucky to be involved with that kind of horse."

In his career Gio Ponti has won half of his 20 starts for $4.1 million. His next start will be in defense of his title in the Arlington Million on August 21.

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