07/23/2009 11:00PM

Different styles for Dollase duo

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Benoit & Associates
Trainer Craig Dollase has both Monterey Jazz (above) and Awesome Gem for the Eddie Read.

DEL MAR, Calif. - One of them roars to the front, dares rivals to go along, and has proven to be uncatchable in recent starts. The other is a closer who at times has run with the best horses in the nation the last few years.

Together, the speedy Monterey Jazz and the stayer Awesome Gem give trainer Craig Dollase a formidable team for Saturday's $350,000 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar.

"They should complement each other," Dollase said.

Dollase's starters are two of the eight entrants in the Grade 1 Read, which is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf. The race is the feature on a 10-race program that includes the $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

The Eddie Read is a highly competitive race that also includes Thorn Song, the winner of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park in May, and Whatsthescript, who was second in the 2008 Eddie Read.

Earlier this year, Dollase's team did not seem like candidates for a mid-summer Grade 1 stakes. Monterey Jazz lost three starts at Santa Anita during the winter before being given a two-month break. Awesome Gem lost his first three starts in stakes during the spring.

Monterey Jazz returned to racing at Hollywood Park in the spring in better form, winning an allowance race over a mile on turf in course-record time on May 24 and the Grade 2 American Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf on July 4. In both races, he took the early lead and was not challenged.

It was not until earlier this week, after Monterey Jazz worked five furlongs in 58 seconds on the main track at Hollywood Park, that Dollase decided to point for the Eddie Read.

"His looks give me an indication that he will run well off that work the other day," Dollase said.

In the American, Monterey Jazz led by as many as six lengths and prevailed by 3 1/4 lengths over Artiste Royal, who starts in the Eddie Read. Monterey Jazz drew the rail for the Read, which sealed the strategy that jockey Tyler Baze will use.

"We've got the inside, and that's the shortest way around there," Dollase said. "He likes it fast and firm."

Monterey Jazz could face early pressure from Thorn Song, who led throughout the Shoemaker to win what trainer Dale Romans described as the best race of the 6-year-old's career. Thorn Song returned to finish fourth in the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs on July 4.

Since that race, owner Zayat Stables and Romans have parted company. Thorn Song is now trained in California by Mike Mitchell, who said he will not send Thorn Song to the front just to make the lead. Mitchell said earlier this week that jockey Mike Smith will have the option of keeping Thorn Song behind Monterey Jazz.

If those two pressure each other, the Read could go to a closer such as Whatsthescript, Artiste Royal, or Awesome Gem. Dakota Phone, Global Hunter, and Richard's Kid also are closers and will be longshots.

Whatsthescript has made two starts this year, finishing fourth in the Shoemaker, a half-length behind Thorn Song, and third, beaten 4 1/2 lengths, by Monterey Jazz in the American.

Whatsthescript's trainer John Sadler is hoping Monterey Jazz will not run that well again.

"I've got to hope he'll bounce a little bit," Sadler said. "He's had two hard races in a row."

At the same time, Sadler said that the 5-year-old Whatsthescript is as effective as he was in 2008, when he won two Grade 2 stakes.

"I think he's as good," Sadler said. "It's the way the races have come up."

Artiste Royal won the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita in January but is winless in four subsequent starts. Artiste Royal was scheduled to be ridden by Rafael Bejarano in the Read, but Bejarano was injured in a spill Wednesday. A replacement had not been announced as of Thursday morning.

Awesome Gem ended a 14-race losing streak with a comprehensive victory in an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on June 27. Third in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic at Monmouth Park, the 6-year-old gelding could be the horse to watch in the stretch of the Eddie Read.

"It could set up for him," Dollase said.