Awesome Gem shines on Million Day
GRAND PRAIRIE , Texas -- Half of Nancy Ury's life has been spent climbing the ladder in the horse racing game.
So on the first road trip for a horse put in Ury's charge by new employer West Point Thoroughbreds, the vice president for road operations was urging Awesome Gem and jockey Robby Albarado to victory in the $300,000 Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap.
"I was screaming bloody murder,'' Ury said. "I was saying 'Come on Gemmy. Come on Robby. When he won, I was crying and jumping up and down.''
The Handicap was the climax of six stakes races making up Lone Star Million Day Monday with 10,354 in attendance at Lone Star Park.
Ury got her start in the stalls at Hot Springs, Ark., at age 18. Her path has included jobs in the racing office, test barn and as a steward.
And now she has her first graded stakes win.
"Robby did exactly what [trainer] Craig [Dollase] wanted him to do,'' Ury said. "It was a perfect trip.''
In a small five-horse field, 8-year-old Awesome Gem was the third betting choice and paid $12.40, 4.60 and 2.80, winning in a time of 1:43.48 for 1 1/16 miles. With the winner's share of $165,000, Awesome Gem's career earnings increase to $2,485,770.
The Bob Baffert-trained Game On Dude, seeking to become the first to win both the Lone Star Derby and Handicap, was level with Awesome Gem three furlongs before the finish but weakened.
"When I called on him, he took it to them,'' Albarado said of Awesome Gem. "He comes running every time so I figured if I could get him into contention early and try to get a jump on them, he would sustain and contain his lead late in the race.''
The long shot in the race, Flat Out, finished second and paid $9.40 and 3.40.
Ury said next for Awesome Gem is a defense of the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9 at Hollywood Park.
"I hope we can come back here next year when he's nine,'' Ury said.
Wasted Tears wins Ouija Board again
Bart Evans confided he had to make a trip to a hot dog stand to compose himself after his 6-year-old mare Wasted Tears' third straight win in the $200,000 Ouija Board Distaff.
"You've got to understand I was the first one to ever ride her,'' said Evans, Wasted Tears' breeder, owner and trainer. "I've pulled her all over the country. I had to compose myself because it is emotional.
"I've had some good ones, but never one quite like her. She's so smart sometimes it's scary.''
Wasted Tears, content to let Sheer Beauty set the pace, moved to the lead at a half-mile and drew clear in the stretch to win by five lengths. She covered a mile on turf in 1:34.06 and paid $2.80, 2.20 and 2.10. The purse of $119,000 increased her lifetime winnings to $889,598.
Evans said Wasted Tears' calendar age is not important.
"How many races has she run, 19? That's not many. I listen to her and she tells me when she's ready,'' Evans said.
Wasted Tears is unbeaten in six career races at Lone Star.
Another Bart-ism on Wasted Tears (and there were many): "She's like a jet. Once she reaches altitude, the seatbelt signs go off.''
Results of other stakes races on Lone Star Million Day:
$200,000 Lone Star Derby: The first running of the Derby on grass was made memorable by a determined effort from Thirtyfirststreet. After being overtaken by Close Ally, jockey Chris Landeros was able to get a Thirtyfirststreet to fight back in the final 100 yards for victory by a neck, paying $45.80, 14.60 and 6.80. Favorite Uncle Sam finished eighth. The winner is owned by Mark Gorman, Neil Haynes and Kevin Bogart and trained by Doug O'Neill.
$150,000 Dallas Turf Cup: Jockey Julien Leparoux, who previously won aboard Wasted Tears, piloted Dean's Kitten to a front-running win. The Michael Maker trainee for owners Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey held off a late bid by runner-up Expansion by 1 1/2 lengths.
$75,000 Valid Expectations Stakes: Irish Gypsy, the 3-5 favorite ridden by Martin Garcia and trained by Bob Baffert, ran down Cosmo Girl in the stretch and won by a head.
$75,000 Cinemine Stakes: Grandacious gained the lead while four-wide at the top of the stretch and prevailed over favorite Aide. The winner is owned by Carl R. Moore Management LLC, ridden by Cliff Berry and trained by Bret Calhoun. The race was marred by Icelain Diva's breakdown 300 yards from the finish line. Jockey Lindey Wade was unseated and was down on the track for several moments. He reported ringing in his ears and a shoulder injury and chose not to ride his final two scheduled mounts for the day. Icelain Diva was transported away from the track by van and later humanely destroyed.
Randy Jennings covers horse racing for ESPNDallas.com.