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Breeders' Cup 2017

Awesome Feather Ready for Return on Thursday

Awesome Feather wins 2012 Sunshine Millions Distaff.

Frank Stronach’s 4-year-old filly Awesome Feather will look to run her record to a perfect 10-for-10 on Thursday at Belmont Park in the one-mile Nasty Storm overnight stakes, scheduled as Race 3. The race drew nine entrants, but some are expected to scratch.


Trained by Chad Brown, the diminutive Florida-bred daughter of Awesome of Course has dealt with tendon issues that have resulted in a light racing schedule over the past few years.


After winning six races in 2010, highlighted by a 2 ¼-length victory in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, she made only two starts in 2011, including a 5 ¼-length romp in the Grade 1 Gazelle in November at Aqueduct. In her lone start this year, Awesome Feather produced a 5 ¾-length tour de force score in the Sunshine Millions Distaff in January at Gulfstream Park.


Brown is hopeful that Thursday’s overnight stakes, in which Awesome Feather has been installed as the 4-5 morning line favorite, will be the perfect prep for an appearance in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic on Friday, November 2 at Santa Anita Park.


“The race is good timing before the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic; I have roughly six weeks,” Brown said. “She’s training super. Her weight is very good, her coat is great, and her works have been perfect. I’ve brought her down to Belmont and I thought she galloped very well today. If she’s sound and in good order, we’ll plan on running her.”


Jeffrey Sanchez, a 27-year-old native of Puerto Rico, will again have the mount on Awesome Feather. He has been on board for all nine of her starts.


On Saturday, Martin S. Schwartz’s Grade 1 winning 5-year-old mare Zagora put in her second work (four furlongs, breezing, 49.88) since setting a track record in the Grade 2, Ballston Spa on August 25 at Saratoga Race Course.


Both her works have been over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga, but Brown indicated that she is on her way to Belmont to continue preparations for a likely run in the Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational on Saturday, September 29.


“We still got a little bit of an eye on the Spinster at Keeneland [Grade 1, 1 1/8 miles Polytrack, Sunday, October 7], that’s not totally off the table,” said Brown. “But I’m going to get her down here and train her towards the Flower Bowl locally, while keeping an eye on some other races. She’s most likely to run here, though.”


Brown also is making plans for two of his impressive 2-year-old turf winners from the Saratoga meet.


Balance the Books, who ran second in a maiden race at Saratoga before capturing the Grade 2, $200,000 With Anticipation the final week of the meet, will target either the Grade 3, $150,000 Pilgrim going 1 1/16 miles on the turf Sunday, October 7 at Belmont Park or the Grade 1, $400,000 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity going 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack Saturday, October 6 a Keeneland.


 “I need to speak with the owners, Seth Klarman and Bill Lawrence, and see what they’re comfortable with,” said Brown. “The Breeders’ Futurity is a pretty big race, being a Grade 1. I bought him out of a sale at Keeneland and he’s been over the Polytrack before, so it might make sense to take a shot at a Grade 1 with him. I think he’s doing really well right now.”


Brown added that Noble Tune, who broke his maiden at first asking impressively over the Saratoga turf on September 3, is pointing for the Pilgrim.


“Noble Tune is probable for the Pilgrim, no matter what,” Brown said. “That won’t influence what I do with Balance the Books. At this point, I don’t mind running these nice horses against one another.”



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