03/01/2012 4:59PM

Santa Anita: Awesome Gem will target Charles Town Classic


\The 9-year-old veteran handicap star Awesome Gem is missing from Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap, but won’t be gone from the division for too much longer.

Training at Santa Anita with Craig Dollase, Awesome Gem is scheduled to return to racing this spring, with his first major goal the $1 million Charles Town Classic over 1 1/8 miles in West Virginia on April 14.

“We plan to run him at the end of March,” Dollase said. “We’re talking about the Charles Town race. We’ll see how it goes.”

Owned by West Point Thoroughbred, Awesome Gem has won 9 of 47 starts and $2,738,270. Awesome Gem is so old that he ran third to Curlin the

2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park. Curlin is now at stud; his oldest foals are 2-year-olds this year.

Last year, Awesome Gem won the Grade 3 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs and was second in the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes here in October, his final start of the season. Dollase said that Awesome Gem has shown enthusiasm in his recent exercise.

“He doesn’t act like a 9-year-old,” he said.