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'Awesome' Record On The Line In Saturday's Millions
By Leona Velazquez
That’s the word trainer Chad Brown uses to describe the condition of Awesome Feather since her victory Nov. 26 in the Gazelle (G1) at Aqueduct. It’s also the word to describe the 4-year-old filly’s record.
When Awesome Feather makes her 2012 debut Saturday in the $300,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Distaff, she’ll do so with a perfect record – undefeated in all eight of her lifetime starts, seven coming in stakes.
Owned by Stronach Stable, Awesome Feather will face five others in Saturday’s 1 1/8th mile event, including the stakes winners Tiz the Argument and Delightful Mary. But Brown says the Eclipse champion and winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) couldn’t be doing any better going into the Florida Sunshine Millions.
“Since she’s won the Gazelle everything’s been perfect,” said Brown of Awesome Feather, who returned in October after a year off due to a lesion on her tendon. “She’s been training here at Palm Meadows and hasn’t missed anything. She’s been working right along.
“She’s done really, really well, but we play it day by day. Stronach Stable has been great. We see how she is after every breeze and every race and if she is not 100 %, we’ll stop on her right away. I couldn’t be happier with the way she’s doing. She’s a good horse, so we’ll line her up with the rest of them and see what she does.”
So far, what she’s done is pretty special.
The bay filly started her streak on May 10, 2010 in a 4 ½ furlong maiden special weight at Calder. In that two year old filly event, jockey Jeffery Sanchez put her on the lead and they never looked back, winning by 5 ¾ widening lengths.
“In her first race, she didn’t want to go in the gate and I thought ‘Oh no, she doesn’t want to run,’ “ commented Sanchez. “But once she got into the gate, she just stared at the door and didn’t move at all. Once the doors opened, she broke about two lengths in front and won easy that day.”
Her maiden victory impressed her connections enough to enter her in the JJ’s Dream, a 5 ½ furlong stake at Calder. Awesome Feather did not break as good second time out, keeping her a couple of lengths off the pace. But she rallied in between horses in the JJ’s Dream and won by a half length.
“She really impressed me that day,” said Sanchez. “She stumbled a little bit out of the gate. She got bumped and I asked her to go through horses and she did. She didn’t get scared, she kept going. I knew after that race how special she was.”
Special indeed. Awesome Feather continued her winning streak with three consecutive stakes victories at Calder. As the distances of each race increased from six furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth, the bay filly increased her winning margin to an impressive 8 ¼ lengths. This set her up perfectly for her last start of 2010, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenille Fillies at Churchill Downs. She won the Grade 1 event by stalking the pace and drawing off by 2 ¼ lengths.
Two days after her victory, Awesome Feather was bought at auction by Stronach Stables and transferred from Stanley Gold to trainer Chad Brown.
“She was brought to Palm Meadows after her 2-year-old season, but suffered a lesion on her tendon,” said Brown. “She was given some extended time off and a lot of therapy. Injuries like that can be tricky. Sometimes they don’t make it back, especially at that level.”
The daughter of Awesome of Course made a triumphant return to the races almost a year later. She ran in the seven furlong Le Slew Stake at Belmont Park where she broke a little awkward, sat off the pace in second, and won by two lengths.
“I was nervous running an undefeated horse,” commented Brown. “She has such a big following. It was a huge relief. She proved she’s special.”
Awesome Feather followed up her performance in the Le Slew by winning the Gazelle at Aqueduct. Again choosing to rate off the pace in second, Sanchez guided the bay filly to a 5 ½ length victory in the mile and an eighth event.
As for racing tactics in the upcoming Sunshine Millions Distaff, Brown will leave that up to her regular rider, Jeffery Sanchez.
“We’ll see what post position we get,” Brown said. “She has good tactical speed so she’ll probably be near or on the lead. I won’t have too much to say about it. She’s a real pro.”