10/24/2001 11:00PM

Feathers appears rejuvenated


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Feathers, who recorded her only stakes victory here last fall in the Bessarabian Handicap, could be peaking in time for Saturday's $111,400 Ontario Fashion Handicap.

The six-furlong dash for fillies and mares is the feature race on the Breeders' Cup Day card at Woodbine, which begins at 11:30 a.m.

Feathers polished off a strong field with a perfect pace setup in the Grade 3 Bessarabian, after which she was given the winter off by trainer Ralph Biamonte. She resurfaced here in April with a lackluster performance in allowance company, and never saw action again until early September.

"She got some kind of virus that we never could pinpoint," Biamonte recalled. "She wasn't responding to all the treatment we did, so we turned her out for three or four weeks. Her blood was perfect after we brought her back in."

Biamonte found an easy spot in an allowance at his Fort Erie base on Sept. 8 for Feathers, who won that six-furlong race by 5 1/2 lengths in a quick time of 1:10.20 over a very fast track.

Feathers enjoyed a dream trip last time in the allowance prep for the Fashion. She stalked a three-way pace battle on the turn, and then overhauled favored Meadow Gem in deep stretch to prevail by a neck over a closing Bahama Dream.

Biamonte said Feathers was a rejuvenated filly when she came off the shelf.

"We got some nice works into her, and she began to come around," said Biamonte. "We entered her once at Woodbine, but the race didn't fill, and then she won that Fort Erie race pretty easily. It was a good tuneup for her. It was better than having to run her at Woodbine in her first start back."

Biamonte believes Feathers will be tough on Saturday if she gets some speed to stalk.

"She's been working very well," the trainer stressed. "She went a half-mile in 48 and change last Sunday at Fort Erie. I think she's better now than she was last year."

Mickey Walls retains the mount on Feathers.

Completing the field will be Sports Flashy, Bold Engagement, Bahama Dream, Press Exclusive, Pete's Fancy, El Prado Essence, Dreams Go Bye, Branksome Hall, and Julie's Witt.

Leading trainer Bob Tiller was expected run Meadow Gem, but he entered Press Exclusive instead. A speedy 5-year-old, Press Exclusive has won 4 of her 6 seasonal outings and is making her stakes debut under David Clark.

"She's in the finest form of her life," Tiller said.

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