Updated on 10/07/2011 12:38PM

Belmont Park: Awesome Feather making return

Barbara D. Livingston
Awesome Feather, with Jeffrey Sanchez riding, caps an undefeated championship year with a victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

ELMONT, N.Y. – The road back to the races for the champion 2-year-old filly Awesome Feather has been filled with potholes. One hole specifically, in a tendon, forced her new connections to have to wait nearly 11 months to get Awesome Feather to the races.

The wait ends Wednesday when Awesome Feather makes her 3-year-old debut in the $60,000 Le Slew Stakes, a seven-furlong race restricted to 3-year-old fillies, at Belmont Park. Awesome Feather will face four rivals, none of whom appear fast enough to beat her.

Last November, Awesome Feather capped a perfect 6-for-6 season with an authoritative victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs, clinching an Eclipse Award as North America’s champion 2-year-old filly. Two days later, owner/breeder Fred Brei put her through the Fasig-Tipton fall mixed sale, where she was purchased by Frank Stronach for $2.3 million. She was turned over to trainer Chad Brown.

Shortly thereafter, a lesion in a tendon was discovered and Brown had to take the filly out of training. She made it to the work tab in May, but other issues came up and Brown had to stop on her a second time in late June. While some horsemen might have decided to retire the filly, Stronach instructed Brown to let things play out.

“You’re dealing with a very experienced owner, Mr. Stronach. More or less I’m training the filly, but as far as what he wants to do with her I follow his lead,” Brown said. “I don’t know if he’s been in this particular situation before, but he’s been in some similar situations. He feels it’s the right thing if she’s sound, if she’s doing well, to go ahead and run her.”

Awesome Feather returned to training in August and she has really impressed Brown.

“In some of her works you just see how easy she does things, it gives you a sneak peek at what’s under the hood,” Brown said. “What’s under the hood is a serious racehorse. It’s obvious given her remarkable record, but getting to see it for yourself you really appreciate it.”

Awesome Feather has won from on the lead and from off the pace, and Brown said he would leave race tactics to jockey Jeffrey Sanchez, who was aboard for all six of Awesome Feather’s races last year.

"You look back at her [past performances] she has 22 [second] and 46-and-change speed if you need it,” Brown said. “As far as seeing in the morning she’s acting kind of sharp and fresh. This kid’s ridden her so well I’m going to kind of leave it up to him.”

The New York-bred Sentimental Lass is the only other stakes winner in the field, having taken the Maid of the Mist going seven furlongs here on New York Showcase Day last year. She comes out of a fifth-place finish in the Union Avenue Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 22, but trainer David Duggan said the filly was in season that day.

“We’re taking a shot at a distance that she ran well at,” said Duggan, who is removing blinkers from Sentimental Lass’s equipment. “If [Awesome Feather] shows up, she’s a faster filly than us; to run second would be great. We just want to get back on track.”

Wild Bout Tiffany, Flying Train, and Indian Lilly complete the field.