11/26/2011 5:15PM

Aqueduct: Awesome Feather trounces Gazelle foes

Barbara D. Livingston
Awesome Feather, with Jeffrey Sanchez riding, wins the Gazelle by 5 1/4 lengths.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. -  Whether eight is enough remains to be seen, but last year's juvenile filly champion, Awesome Feather, made it all the way back for an emphatic triumph in Saturday's Grade 1, $250,000 Gazelle, thus keeping her perfect record intact.

Purchased for $2.3 million by Frank Stronach and turned over to Chad Brown after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall, Awesome Feather was sidelined by a potentially career-ending tendon injury for 11 months, and returned at Belmont to win a seven-furlong overnight stake on Oct. 5.

Stretching out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time, Awesome Feather was headstrong approaching the backstretch as Love and Pride took the lead through an easy first quarter-mile in 24.93 seconds. She settled down for Jeffrey Sanchez after that to press the leader through fractions of 48.97 seconds and 1:12.41, before challenging in earnest from the outside nearing the quarter pole. After wresting command, she drew off steadily through the final furlong to win by 5 1/4 lengths.

"She is little, but she is unbelievable," said Sanchez. "I didn't go to the lead, I sat there, took back. At the half-mile pole, I knew I was going to win the race. I had a lot of confidence in her."

Awesome Feather ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.01 on a fast track, and won for the eighth time in as many starts. The $150,000 winner's share increased her career earnings to $1,681,746.

"She trained so well in the morning, I'm not surprised," said Brown. "You just never know . . . with everything she has been through, what's going to happen. But with the way she's training, it doesn't surprise me she's capable of uncorking a run like that. We've just been taking it day by day with her. As long as she's 100 percent healthy, we'll probably see her in the Sunshine Millions at Gulfstream [Jan. 28]. That'd be the plan, but we're going to see how she is first, but if she's okay, that's where I'd go."

Draw It finished strongly outside to get second in the final strides by a nose over Love and Pride, who held third by two lengths over Daring Reality.

The order of finish was completed by Miss Valentine, R Gypsy Gold, Bryan's Jewel and Savvy Supreme, who was the only graded stakes winner in the field besides the winner.