09/24/2010 4:29PM

Awesome Gem won't defend Gold Cup title

Four-Footed Fotos
Awesome Gem is not expected to defend his title in this year's Hawthorne Gold Cup.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – There are 250,000 fewer reasons this year than last year for Awesome Gem to travel from Southern California to Chicago for the Hawthorne Gold Cup, and trainer Craig Dollase said Friday that Awesome Gem would stay home for the Goodwood Stakes rather than try to win the Hawthorne Gold Cup for the second year in a row.

Hawthorne starts its fall-winter meet Friday, with the Gold Cup and the Grade 3 Carey Memorial Handicap on Saturday’s card. Both races were affected by $700,000 in cuts made to the 2010 stakes schedule last month, with the Gold Cup purse cut in half from its 2009 level of $500,000. The Goodwood offers the same purse, and by targeting that spot, Awesome Gem’s connections can race in their backyard, instead of going halfway across the country.

“It looks like we’re staying here to run,” Dollase said. “He likes this track. It’s night and day compared to how he likes Del Mar.”

Awesome Gem finished last of 10 in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar but won the Hollywood Gold Cup in his previous race. The Oak Tree race meet is being held at Hollywood Park this year, so the Goodwood will be contested there.

As of Friday, Hawthorne had four horses committed to the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup: A U Miner, Giant Oak, Going Ballistic, and Shadowbdancing. Shadowbdancing faded to sixth in the 2009 Gold Cup but has won 4 of 6 starts in 2010, including a win in the Grade 2 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows.

Hubbub on horizon?

Winning the third race here Friday, Junior Alvarado narrowed Mike Baze’s lead in the rider standings to seven wins, 100-93. And should Baze win the riding title by four wins or less, it could stir minor controversy.

Arlington had a number of post-race drug-test disqualifications earlier in the year, and because of them, Alvarado suffered a net loss of four victories. All the rulings related to the positive tests are on appeal, meaning that the affected horses haven’t yet been officially disqualified, but Equibase, racing’s record-keeper, has decided that Alvarado’s wins won’t count, even during the appeal process.

On the final weekend of racing this Arlington meet, Baze has 15 mounts (excluding two also-eligibles), with Alvarado named to ride 14 horses.

Catalano headed to another title

Wayne Catalano is, as so often happens, running away with the Arlington training title. Entering Friday’s races, he had 73 victories at the meet, 23 more than second-place Nick Canani. The win total puts Catalano just one behind the meet-record 74 races he won here during the 2007 season.

Catalano had four horses entered on Friday’s card but is scheduled to send out just two more starters during closing weekend.

Wild Mia looks strong

Allowance races have been difficult to find during closing week here, and Sunday’s card is no exception, with a first-level turf race the only allowance on a nine-race program.

There may be a decent 3-year-old filly in the field, however. Wild Mia made her first start of 2010 in a grass allowance race here last month and made a strong bid to reach winner Dade Babe. All Dade Babe did in her next start was lead start to finish in the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes. Wild Mia has a wide draw, but probably has the ability to overcome it.

Emigh gets new agent

With agent Jay Fedor going to Kentucky with jockey Mike Baze this fall, an unusually long jockey-agent relationship is coming to a close. Except for a span of a couple months, Chris Emigh and Fedor have teamed up for the last 14 years.

Emigh, though, will be represented by agent Mark Cooper during the fall-winter meet at Hawthorne. Emigh said he planned to ride in Chicago throughout the Hawthorne season before moving his tack to Oaklawn Park in mid-winter.