Awesome Gem, a 9-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again who won graded stakes over five different racing seasons from 2007-2012, has been retired, according to Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds, the partnership that campaigned the horse.
Finley said trainer Craig Dollase called with the bad news that filling was detected in the area of his left front suspensory ligament after a routine gallop at Betfair Hollywood Park. He had been preparing for a race at Fairplex Park.
A winner of 11 of 52 starts, with 15 seconds and three thirds and earnings of $2,881,370, Awesome Gem won the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup in 2010, along with five other graded stakes: the 2007 G2 San Fernando; 2009 G2 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap; 2011 G3 Longacres Mile Handicap; 2011 G3 Lone Star Park Handicap; and 2012 G3 Berkeley Handicap. He raced on both coasts, the Midwest, and in Hong Kong, competing on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces at 13 different racetracks.
Awesome Gem also raced in four consecutive Breeders' Cup races, his best showing a third-place finish behind Horse of the Year Curlin in the 2007 Classic at Monmouth Park.
“He's been a rock star for us,” Finley said. “Awesome Gem took us around the world, to Hong Kong and all over the United States. I don't think there was more than one or two times where at the top of the stretch you said he had no shot to hit the board. This horse gave us a lot of great thrills.”
Out of the Pentilicus mare, Piano, Awesome Gem was bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm, Catesby Clay, and Peter Callahan. West Point purchased him for $150,000 at the 2005 Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training from Crupi's New Castle Farm, which pinhooked him out of the previous year's Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale, where he was sold by Bluewater Sales for the same price.
Finley said the suspensory problem was the first physical setback of any consequence Awesome Gem has had since he was a 2-year-old, when he had surgery on both front ankles. “He's such a beautiful and efficient mover with great biomechanics, I never really thought about him getting injured in a race,” Finley said. “The fact that he stayed sound as long as he did shows absolutely what kind of horsemen Craig Dollase and his team are. We paired him with a great trainer and he made magic for us for seven years, and for that we're indebted to him.
“We're all competitive in the horse business and we are all looking or good horses. Try to envision what's it meant to be around a horse like this that's competed at the top level for seven straight years. It's been very, very special for our group of clients.”
Finley didn't know immediately where Awesome Gem would spend his retirement years.
“Rest assured, he's going to be under our care in one form or another for the rest of his life,” Finley said.
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