10/14/2008 12:00AM

Classic now an appealing spot for Awesome Gem


ARCADIA, Calif. - The absence of Big Brown from the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25 may lead Awesome Gem to start in the race for the second consecutive year.

Third in the 2007 BC Classic at Monmouth Park, Awesome Gem was pre-entered for the Classic and the $2 million Mile on turf Tuesday, trainer Craig Dollase said.

"We'll take a shot in the Classic," Dollase said. "With Big Brown out, that helps his chances there."

Owned by the West Point Thoroughbreds partnership, Awesome Gem will be a longshot in the BC Classic. Winless in five starts this year, Awesome Gem was second in the Grade 3 All American Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Sept. 27 in his most recent start. Earlier this year, he was seventh in the Santa Anita Handicap and Pacific Classic and was second, by a nose, in the Wickerr Handicap on turf at Del Mar.

Awesome Gem, who has won 4 of 20 starts and $1,219,882, has one stakes win in his career - the 2007 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes at Santa Anita.

"He's one of those horses that hangs around," Dollase said. "He doesn't always get there, but he's a moneymaker."

Awesome Gem worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

Dollase has the West Point-owned Tropic Storm pointing for the inaugural $1 million BC Turf Sprint at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course on Oct. 25. Tropic Storm will also be pre-entered in the $1 million BC Dirt Mile to be run on the same day, Dollase said.

Tropic Storm, 4, has placed in four consecutive stakes, including a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap on the main track at Hollywood Park in July and a third in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile on turf here on Sept. 28.

Black Mamba likely priced out of Cup

John Sadler, the leading trainer at the Hollywood Park spring-summer and Del Mar meetings this year, has six hopefuls for the Breeders' Cup races on Oct. 24-25, but the list does not include his stakes-winning turf female Black Mamba.

Black Mamba, the winner of the Beverly Hills and John Mabee handicaps in the summer, will be pointed for the $250,000 Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 24, Sadler said. To start in the BC Filly and Mare Turf, her owners, Doubledown Stables, would have to pay a $300,000 supplemental fee.

"We're probably 99 percent that we're not going to supplement because of the cost," Sadler said.

Sadler's Breeders' Cup team includes Cost of Freedom for the Sprint, Emmy Darling for the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Evita Argentina for the Juvenile Fillies, Get Funky for the Turf Sprint, Whatsthescript for the Mile, and Zappa for the Marathon.

Whatsthescript won the Del Mar Mile on turf in his last start, on Aug. 24.

Turf or main track for Saucey Evening

Saucey Evening, the winner of the California Cup Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 5, was pre-entered for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and $2 million Juvenile Fillies earlier this week, trainer Graham Motion said. Both races are on Oct. 24.

Motion said he is leaning toward running Saucey Evening in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

"I'm anxious to see her back on turf," he said. "Realistically, you want to get into the race where you're most competitive."

Owned by Augustin Stable, Saucey Evening has won 2 of 4 starts. In her only start on turf, she won a five-furlong maiden race in her career debut at Colonial Downs on June 20.

Motion has two other hopefuls for the Breeders' Cup - the 9-year-old Better Talk Now in the BC Turf and Rebellion in the Mile on turf or the Dirt Mile.

Better Talk Now will be making his fifth consecutive appearance in the BC Turf. After winning the 2004 running, he finished seventh in 2005, second in 2006, and fourth last year. This year, Better Talk Now is winless in four starts, including a second in the Sword Dancer Handicap at Saratoga in August.

"I feel he's been very unlucky this year," Motion said.

Stute ends stakes drought

Mel Stute won his first stakes in nearly a year with Hurry Up Austin ($13.60) in Monday's $68,300 Kangaroo Court Stakes on the hillside turf course.

Ridden by Michael Martinez, Hurry Up Austin rallied from last in the field of six to outfinish the even-money favorite, Delta Storm, by three-quarters of a length. Hurry Up Austin ran about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf in 1:11.60. The restricted stakes was the first stakes win at Santa Anita for Martinez.

Before Monday's race, Stute had not won a stakes since October 2007 with Wise Mandate in the Jack Goodman Stakes. He said that Hurry Up Austin may start before the current Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting ends on Oct. 26.

"He'll run again here because I need the money," Stute said. "He'll go further."

Two riders take ill

Joel Rosario, third in the jockey standings through Monday, took off his mounts on Sunday and Monday because of illness.

Garrett Gomez, who won the first and third races on Monday aboard horses originally scheduled to be ridden by Rosario, took off his final three mounts on Monday, citing illness. Through Monday, Gomez was tied with Rafael Bejarano in the standings with 16 wins.

Service to remember Benoit

A memorial service honoring racing executive and publicist Bob Benoit will be held in the Chandelier Room of the Santa Anita turf club after the races on Thursday.

Benoit died on Aug. 15 at 81. Through the years, he rose from being a member of the Hollywood Park publicity staff in 1953 to serving as chief operating officer and general manager of that track in 1977.

In 1980, he launched a public relations firm that eventually took over the role as official track photographer at the major Southern California racetracks. The company continues in that capacity.

Gil Stratton dead at 86

Gil Stratton, a Southern California sports anchor who hosted a 30-minute live horse racing show from 1955 until the early 1970s, died on Saturday, according to the broadcaster's website. He was 86.

Stratton suffered from congestive heart failure, according to an obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

Stratton's horse racing program was carried on 34 CBS affiliates throughout the West, presenting racing from Del Mar, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita. The program featured interviews with horsemen and races called by Harry Henson.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, 23388 Mulholland Drive, Woodlands Hills, CA 91364.