11/05/2010 6:42PM

Awesome Feather stays perfect in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

Tom Keyser
Awesome Feather, sold for $3.3 million shortly after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, will prep in Florida for her first major objective, the Kentucky Oaks in early May.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Awesome Feather proved that she’s not just a south Florida sensation. She’s a national champion.

After beating up on the 2-year-old fillies in south Florida all summer and fall, Awesome Feather took it to the rest of the North American crop, edging clear from R Heat Lightning in the final sixteenth to win the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies by 2 1/4 lengths at Churchill Downs.

R Heat Lightning, who dueled for the lead with the European filly Theysken’s Theory, held on for second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Delightful Mary. It was 1 1/4 lengths back to Believe in A. P. in fourth. She was followed in the order of finish by Joyful Victory, Theyskens’ Theory, Tell a Kelly, Harlan’s Ruby, Izshelegal, Jordy Y, Soundwave, and A Z Warrior, who was the second choice.

The win capped a perfect 6-for-6 campaign for Awesome Feather, and, most likely, an Eclipse Award as North America’s leading 2-year-old filly. She is owned and bred by Fred Brei and trained by Stanley Gold.

It also will make for an interesting scene Sunday at the Fasig-Tipton auction in Lexington, Ky., where she is cataloged to be sold. Two years ago, Stardom Bound was sold at auction following a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and went for $5.7 million.

“She will stay in that sale,” Brei said. “Our reason for that is quite simple: I prefer to race in south Florida, Stanley doesn’t prefer to [go] all over the country running, so we’re better off to let somebody own her who will run her where she needs to run.”

Awesome Feather’s 8 1/4-length victory in the My Dear Girl Stakes at Calder on Oct. 16 proved to Brei and Gold that she belonged in the Juvenile Fillies. In a wide-open Juvenile Fillies, Awesome Feather was sent off a 4-1 favorite – the longest-priced favorite in the 27-year history of the race – and she didn’t disappoint her backers.

Jeffrey Sanchez, riding his first Breeders’ Cup race, had Awesome Feather in third position while R Heat Lightning and Theysken’s Theory dueled on the lead through a quarter-mile in 23.90 seconds and a half-mile in 48.14 seconds. Awesome Feather tracked those before moving past Theysken’s Theory at the five-sixteenths pole.

Awesome Feather crept up outside of R Heat Lightning just outside the quarter pole, and the two dueled until the sixteenth pole – brushing inside the eighth pole – with Awesome Feather edging away late under a vigorous hand-ride from the 24-year-old Sanchez. Awesome Feather, a daughter of Awesome of Course, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.17 and returned $10.20 to win.

Speaking through an interpreter, his agent Pedro Garcia, Sanchez said the plan was to put Awesome Feather “behind the leaders and make one move and wait for the horses from behind. When the other filly bumped her, she moved again and wanted to run more.”

R Heat Lightning switched her leads several times in the stretch, but it likely didn’t change the outcome of the race.

“She switched her leads back and forth,” jockey John Velazquez said. “She never got to relax the first part of the race and that’s what really killed her. Even though she was on the lead, she was not in a nice, comfortable pace.”

Gold said he was confident Awesome Feather was going to run as well as she could in the Juvenile Fillies, he just wasn’t sure if she stacked up with the nation’s best.

“I had the same doubts that a lot of the people had, but I knew she was ready to run the best race she could,” Gold said. “I was confident she’d give us 100 percent. I thought we’d see if she was up to the task, and she was. She did what we thought she could do and she is of that class.”

Naturally, Gold said he would be sad to see Awesome Feather go to somebody else, if she is indeed sold Sunday.

“There’s the sport of racing and there’s the business of racing,” Gold said. “We just reached the pinnacle of the sport and the elation I get from it. I guess I just end up on the short end of the stick from the business end. I’ll miss her, but that’s the business. I understand.”