09/20/2012 2:10PM

Belmont: Awesome Feather boosts Breeders' Cup stock with blowout win in Nasty Storm

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Awesome Feather, under Jeffrey Sanchez, coasts to an easy in the Nasty Storm Stakes, her first race since January.

ELMONT, N.Y. – It’s not that Awesome Feather won Thursday’s $85,000 Nasty Storm Stakes at Belmont Park that was surprising. It was the way she did it that had jaws dropping.

In her first start since January, Awesome Feather rolled to an 11 1/4-length victory in the Nasty Storm, running a mile in 1:33.47 over a Belmont main track that was playing fast.

Still, jockey Jeffrey Sanchez was far from all out on Awesome Feather, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2010 who remained undefeated in 10 starts.

“You never can predict something like that, but her weight and her coat were tremendous,” trainer Chad Brown said. “She’s been very, very strong in her works and her gallops up in Saratoga. Six weeks out from the Breeders’ Cup, I think she needed a race, so I’m not at all upset with winning by that many and having a strong final time. I think she needed the race and we got the race we needed.”

Awesome Feather, in her first start since Jan. 28, when she won the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream, broke on top, but then settled into third position. Awesome Feather was about three lengths behind Daddy’s Honor, who ran a quarter in 22.63 seconds and a half-mile in 44.96 while being chased by All Due Respect.

Midway around the far turn, Awesome Feather made a three-wide move and struck the front at the five-sixteenths pole. She got to the quarter pole two in front after running six furlongs in 1:08.60. From there it was just a matter of how many lengths she would win by and the final time. Sanchez simply flashed the whip at Awesome Feather while giving her a strong hand ride to the wire. All Due Respect finished second.

“She’s much better, she’s more relaxed today,” Sanchez said. “Down the backside when I push her. She [went] much better than the last time.”

Brown said he was a little concerned watching the early part of the race because Awesome Feather didn’t appear that eager.

“We’ve gotten her to relax in the mornings – which has worked – but then in a race you’d love to see her dying to get by the horses,” Brown said. “I thought the first three-eighths she wasn’t in a hurry to go by them, but at the quarter pole when she made her move I was focusing on the competition and it looked like they were going backwards.

“I thought her stride looked good and she was really stretching out and really moving as well as I’d ever seen her move.”

Brown said that the Nasty Storm was designed to get Awesome Feather to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 2, when she would presumably face the likes of Questing, the leading 3-year-old filly, and Royal Delta, last year’s Ladies’ Classic winner and 3-year-old filly champion.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this great filly comes out of the race and everyone gets to see the showdown they want to see at Santa Anita,” Brown said.