10/05/2009 12:00AM

Breeders' Cup next for Awesome Gem


STICKNEY, Ill. - Third in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic and sixth in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Mile, Awesome Gem is bound for another Breeders' Cup start on the heels of his brave victory Saturday in the . The question is which one.

"We haven't mapped out a plan yet," trainer Craig Dollase said Monday. "He's definitely going to the Breeders' Cup, but we're not sure which race yet."

Awesome Gem's victory here Saturday came over the Classic distance of 1 1/4 miles, but the Classic is only one of three races being considered for Awesome Gem. A return trip to the Mile is a possibility, but so is the 1 3/4-mile Marathon, Dollase said.

Awesome Gem remained stabled at Hawthorne as of Monday and is due to fly back to Los Angeles on Wednesday morning. Dollase said the gelding had exited the Gold Cup in fine fashion, and he was pleased with how Awesome Gem had handled a muddy racetrack. Awesome Gem hadn't encountered mud since finishing third to Curlin in the 2007 BC Classic and he got plenty of wet racetrack splattered onto him Saturday. David Flores kept Awesome Gem down along the fence for most of the Gold Cup, and he made two runs (one to get position, the second to win the thing) while never showing any sign of backing away from the muddy kickback.

Nite Light raced wide into the first turn and turned in a solid performance finishing second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths. Nite Light won his Polytrack debut last month in the 1 1/2-mile Turfway Park Fall Championship and has run in races as long as two miles. The Breeders' Cup Marathon seems a natural target for him, and Nite Light could well wind up in that spot.

"I'd say it's a strong possibility," Michael McCarthy, Todd Pletcher's assistant, said just after the Gold Cup.

Giant Oak staying on main track

Well, that was the "good" Giant Oak back in action again Saturday at Hoosier Park, where he finished a strong-closing second in the .

The "good" Giant Oak finished a close second to Musket Man in the Illinois Derby and sharply won the Arlington Classic in his next start. The other Giant Oak finished a flat fifth as the odds-on favorite in the American Derby, his first race after the Arlington Classic; finished a well-beaten seventh in the Secretariat Stakes; and somehow was only third as the 6-5 favorite in an overnight 3-year-old turf stakes late in the Arlington meet.

All in all, it has started to look like Giant Oak is not really a turf horse, regardless of his apparently good grass win at 2 and his performance in the Arlington Classic. Giant Oak now has three seconds from four fast-track dirt starts, and he had seriously compromising trouble in the fourth race.

"You've got to put turf in the rearview mirror right now," trainer Chris Block said.

"I was glad to see him finish with authority," Block said. "It would've been great to win it, but he was coming, chipping away. And it's remarkable how well he came out of the race. I walked him myself afterward, and I couldn't hold him on the ground."

Given that fact, Block said he is tentatively pointing Giant Oak to the $150,000 Fayette over Polytrack on Oct. 31 at Keeneland. And were Giant Oak to run well there, his connections would consider the Clark Handicap in November at Churchill Downs.