10/05/2011 2:09PM

Belmont: Awesome Feather wins in return

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Awesome Feather, with Jeffrey Sanchez riding, wins the Le Slew in her first start back from an injury.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Awesome Feather, last year’s champion 2-year-old filly, made a successful return to the races Wednesday at Belmont Park, beating a modest group of challengers by two lengths in the $60,000 Le Slew Stakes.

The victory kept Awesome Feather undefeated in seven career starts and rewarded the patience of her new owner, Frank Stronach, and trainer Chad Brown.

Stronach purchased Awesome Feather for $2.3 million at auction last Nov. 7, two days after Awesome Feather won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies for owner/breeder Fred Brei and trainer Stanley Gold at Churchill Downs.

Awesome Feather was found to have a bowed tendon shortly thereafter and needed ample time to heal.

Brown said he only had Awesome Feather about “75 percent” fit for her return, but that’s all she needed to be to defeat the New York-bred Sentimental Lass.

Under regular rider Jeffrey Sanchez, Awesome Feather stalked the pacesetting Flying Train through a quarter-mile of 22.60 seconds and a half-mile in 45.30. Awesome Feather confronted Flying Train turning for home, made the lead in upper stretch, and held Sentimental Lass at bay.

Awesome Feather, a daughter of Awesome of Course, covered seven furlongs in 1:22.76 and returned $2.50 as the overwhelming choice.

“When I saw 22 and 45 and change and she’s only a length off it - for a horse off a layoff that’s a demanding pace to chase and still have finish, so I was a little worried down the backside as far as for a victory,” Brown said. “She dug in, she has the heart to a champion. It might not have been a stellar group, but she got the job done and I think she’ll be better off for it in the long run fitness-wise.}

Brown said he would wait to see how Awesome Feather came out of the race before discussing what might be next for Awesome Feather.