The colt Mythical Gem looked precious indeed while going wire-to-wire in the $50,000 Honor Guard Stakes on the grass at Pimlico today.

The win continues an amazing reversal of fortunes for Mythical Gem. During a horrible winter at Gulfstream Park, the 3-year-old son of Jade Hunter looked more like costume jewelry than anything of value. In a maiden race in March, Mythical Gem lost by 56 lengths, or by more than a football field.

But as soon as Graham Motion brought Mythical Gem north to Maryland, home of owner Dogwood Stable, and gave jockey Mario Verge his reins, the colt forgot how to lose. In his first start of the spring, Mythical Gem broke his maiden with an 11-length, wire-to-wire win at Pimlico in April. Motion then tried him out on the grass against allowance company last month, and Mythical Gem again never trailed while registering a 4 1/2-length victory.

The recent performances encouraged bettors to make Mythical Gem an even-money favorite in the Honor Guard Stakes. Mythical Gem's two-race win streak never seemed at risk at any point in the 1 1/8-mile trip. True to form, Verge asked his mount to take the lead right out of the gate.

The longshots Well Intended and Holditholditholdit stalked the pace through the first turn, but stopped chasing on the backstretch. Verge kept Mythical Gem along the rail throughout, and took a seven-length lead into the stretch. Since no others in the seven-horse field mounted a challenge over the final furlong, Verge brought Mythical Gem home with a hand ride.

At the wire, it was Mythical Gem by six lengths over Middleworth Bay and rider Frank Douglas. Mythical Gem finished in 1 minute 49 4/5 seconds, and paid $4.20.

After the race, Verge admitted being impressed with the rides Mythical Gem has been giving him lately. "He broke running," said Verge. "I was just a passenger, and he carried me. This was his best race yet."

Assistant trainer Adrian Rolls agreed. "I'm not sure what his limits are. He's getting stronger with each race," said Rolls in the winner's circle. "Dirt, turf, the world is his oyster."