The Florida Sunshine Millions got off to a perfect start at
Gulfstream Park Saturday when Awesome Feather extended her unbeaten
streak with a dazzling performance in the $300,000 Distaff.
Sent to post in the first of six stakes for Florida-bred thoroughbreds
as the 4-5 favorite in a field of six, Awesome Feather scored by 5 ¾
lengths under jockey Jeffrey Sanchez to collect her ninth straight
“She trained great for the race, but you just don’t know until you can
run them,” said trainer Chad Brown, who saddled the daughter of Awesome
of Course for the Stronach Stables. “She’s just a real pro.”
Awesome Feather, who captured the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies
(G1) on her way to a year-end Eclipse Award championship, broke alertly
from the starting gate to closely attend pacesetter Tiz the Argument,
the 7-5 second choice ridden by Ramon Dominguez. The two fillies opened
up several lengths on their rivals along the backstretch and into the
far turf while posting solid fractions of :23.46, :46.69, 1:10.82 for
the first six furlongs.
“I was a little concerned when I saw the fast fractions, but Jeffrey is part of the team and executed perfectly,” Brown said.
Midway on the turn, Awesome Feather edged past the tiring pacesetter
under her own power and opened a clear lead entering the stretch.
Delightful Mary drew within a couple lengths while under full drive by
jockey Luis Contreras, but the odds-on favorite was asked for her run
and she responded by quickly sprinted away from her challenger with
“She just hit another gear and it was over,” Brown said. “I’m not sure we’ve ever seen every gear she’s got.”
Awesome Feather ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.17. Delightful Mary, who had
finished third behind Awesome Feather in the 2010 Juvenile Fillies in
their last meeting, held second money, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of 2011
Sunshine Millions winner Sweet Repent. Tiz the Argument faded to fifth.
“I committed to make the lead and the winner was pressing me hard. When
I looked over she was just very handy,” Dominguez said. “We couldn’t
match strides with her. She’s really like her name says.”
Awesome Feather, who swept the Florida Stallion Series before
concluding her championship 2-year-old season with her Breeders’ Cup
score, was purchased at auction for $2.3 million by Stronach Stables
prior to her 3-year-old season. A tendon injury that put her racing
career in jeopardy was subsequently discovered, but the patience of her
new owner and trainer paid off in the fall, when Awesome Feather
returned to action to capture an overnight stakes at Belmont Park before
posting a five-length victory in the Gazelle (G1) on Nov. 25.
Her 4-year-old debut was just as impressive.
“I have so much confidence in her,” said Sanchez, who has been aboard
Awesome Feather for all nine of her victories. “She’s just so special to
me. She’s the best horse I’ve ever ridden. She’s the best filly in the
Awesome Feather’s brilliant performance will leave racing fans wanting to see more from her.
“We don’t have anything in particular in mind for her,” Brown said.
“The biggest thing with her is to see how she comes back. We’ll talk to
the Stronachs and see where we go. With her, it’s one race at a time.”