Awesome Feather, last year's 2-year-old filly Eclipse champion, returned in style to win her first start of 2011 in the $60,000 Le Slew S. Oct. 4 at Belmont Park. The daughter of Awesome of Course is undefeated in seven lifetime outings; her last start of 2010 was in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) a race she won by 2 1/4-lengths to sew up divisional honors.
In the Le Slew, Awesome Feather was making her first start for new owner Frank Stronach, who bought the bay filly out of last year's Fasig-Tipton fall mixed sale for $2.3 million just two days after the Breeders' Cup.
Under regular rider Jeffrey Sanchez, Awesome Feather stalked the pacesetter Flying Train through a quarter-mile of 22.60 seconds and a half-mile in 45.30. The eventual winner took over at the top of the stretch, and held Sentimental Lass off late to win by two lengths. The final time for the seven furlongs on a fast track was 1:22.76.
"I was a little worried early because coming off this type of layoff I didn't want to crank the screws too much in the morning and never get to this day,” said winning trainer Chad Brown, who also saddled the filly for the first time. “So, I felt like I probably had her 75 percent fit, but perfectly sound, and I took that as enough to get her started. When I saw :22, :45 and she's only a length off it, for a horse off a layoff, that's a demanding pace to chase and still have finish. I was a little worried down the backside...but she dug in, she has the heart of a champion.”
"I think she'll be better off for it in the long run, fitness-wise,” Brown continued. “With this situation, really, we've got to see how she comes out of the race and make sure she's perfectly sound. At that time, I'll discuss things with the Stronachs and see what direction they want to go with her."
Awesome Feather has now earned $1,531,746 after the $36,000 payday. The bulk of her earnings came for her original owner Fred Brei's Jacks or Better Farm, who also bred the filly in Florida. Her sire Awesome of Course is Florida's leading sire of the 2-year-olds in 2011, a title he also held last year.
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