06/24/2009 11:00PM

Awesome Gem spotted for win

Benoit & Associates
Awesome Gem hasn't won a race in two years, but has a good chance to break that streak in an allowance race on Saturday.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The $700,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 11 remains on the summertime agenda for Awesome Gem, a millionaire 6-year-old.

First, Awesome Gem will start in a $58,000 allowance race on Saturday, a race that trainer Craig Dollase and the West Point Thoroughbreds partnership hope will be the gelding's first win in two years.

"It's a springboard into the Hollywood Gold Cup and a confidence-booster," Dollase said. "He's a sound older gelding that needs to get back in the game."

Awesome Gem is part of a field of six in Saturday's ninth race, run over 1 1/16 miles on turf. In his last start, Awesome Gem finished fifth in the Grade 2 Californian on June 13. Last of 10 to the end of the backstretch, he closed well in the final furlong to finish 1 1/2 lengths behind upset winner Informed.

On May 25, Awesome Gem had a similar trip in the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields, closing from eighth in a field of nine to finish third, beaten just a neck.

The five horses Awesome Gem faces on Saturday are stakes winners - Becrux, Crafty Power, Tiz West, Unusual Suspect, and Yankee Bravo.

They are not considered Gold Cup hopefuls, since most specialize in racing on turf or at distances shorter than the Gold Cup trip of 1 1/4 miles. Becrux, a 7-year-old gelding, had the best recent run, a second-place finish to the Dollase-trained Monterey Jazz in an allowance race over a mile on turf on May 24.

The Gold Cup field will not include Ball Four, the winner of the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on May 9 and second to Informed in the Californian. "A mile and a quarter is not his trip," trainer Patrick Biancone said on Thursday.

Biancone said that Ball Four will be pointed for the $150,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 2.

Restless Soul ending layoff

Restless Soul will have had a 12-week gap between races when she starts in Sunday's $150,000 Beverly Hills Handicap. A 5-year-old mare, Restless Soul has won 2 of her last 3 starts, including the Yerba Buena Stakes over 1 3/8 miles on turf at Golden Gate Fields on April 4.

The break is longer than trainer Ben Cecil would prefer, but not enough to discourage him from running Restless Soul in the Grade 2 Beverly Hills over 1 1/4 miles on turf. Finding the right distance for a female turf marathoner is not easy on a circuit that offers limited opportunities.

"After the Yerba Buena we knew there would be nothing for her until this race," he said. "There was nothing wrong with her. It's a step up, obviously, but she's trained well, and this is the race we've pointed her for it."

Restless Soul is part of a field of six in the Beverly Hills, which is led by defending champion Black Mamba. Trained by John Sadler, Black Mamba is winless in five starts since the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar last August. Black Mamba was fourth in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf on May 30.

"Apart from her, it comes up lighter," Cecil said. "It's a Grade 2 and they don't give them away. If I can get my filly a graded stakes placing or a graded stakes win, she'll be worth a lot more."

New Zealander to join Canani barn

Puttanesca, a stakes winner in New Zealand, will remain in the United States after her scheduled start in the $700,000 American Oaks on July 5 and will be based with trainer Julio Canani, according to bloodstock agent Alex Solis II.

Solis, the son of the prominent jockey, is assisting Canani with Puttanesca, who is owned by Y.K. Wong of Hong Kong. The 4-year-old filly will make her final start for trainer Wayne Hillis in the American Oaks.

Hillis has experience in the American Oaks. In 2004, his Boulevardofdreams finished seventh behind Ticker Tape.

Puttanesca has won 2 of 11 starts in New Zealand, including a Group 2 race earlier this year. She was second by a head in a one-mile race at Ruakaka racecourse in New Zealand June 17.

Solis said that Puttanesca is scheduled to arrive in California on Wednesday, just days before the race. She will be ridden by Australian jockey Glen Boss.

The Grade 1 American Oaks includes 4-year-old fillies from the Southern Hemisphere.

The American Oaks is expected to be led by the local graded stakes winners Mrs Kipling and Well Monied; Gozzip Girl, the winner of the Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park on May 30; and the English stakes winner Apple Charlotte.

* Fearing massive show bets and a potential minus show pool, Hollywood Park will not offer show wagering on Saturday's Vanity Handicap, a race led by the undefeated champion Zenyatta.