Trainer Chad Brown sent out undefeated Awesome Feather on Sunday morning for
her penultimate work prior to an expected start in the 1 1/8-mile Breeders' Cup
Ladies Classic. The four-year-old Awesome of Course filly was caught by NYRA
clockers in 1:12 1/5 for six furlongs over Belmont Park's fast main track, the
only work at the distance.
"I was very pleased with her work," Brown said. "She went in 1:12 and I got her (galloping) out in 1:24 and change for seven-eighths, all by herself, nice and easy. I'm very, very happy with the way she was moving. She galloped out super, and came back to the barn good."
A perfect 10-for-10 with earnings of $1,912,746, Awesome Feather has two Grade 1 victories to her credit -- the 2010 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies and the 2011 Gazelle at Aqueduct. Tendon issues over the past two years have restricted the filly to a light racing schedule, and she exits a victory in the Nasty Storm overnight stakes on September 20 at Belmont, her second start of 2012.
"Fingers crossed, if we can keep her happy and healthy, we're in good shape," Brown said of the Stronach Stables representative. "I'm going to come back and hopefully work her next Sunday, on the 28th, and if she checks out good on Monday morning we'll put her on the plane and bring her to Santa Anita."
In addition to Awesome Feather, Brown also plans to send a sextet of turf horses to Santa Anita for various Breeders' Cup events.
The trainer worked Grade 3 winner Corporate Jungle a half-mile in :47 2/5 on Sunday. Only seventh behind Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, he will shorten up in trip for the about 6 1/2-furlong Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.
On Monday, Brown has turf works planned for Zagora (Filly & Mare Turf); Watsdachances and Flashy Gal (both Juvenile Fillies Turf); Balance the Books and Noble Tune (both Juvenile Turf).
"I worked Corporate Jungle today (on dirt) because it didn't really benefit
me to wait until tomorrow," Brown said. "He doesn't really appreciate soft turf,
and he works well enough on the dirt, that's why I chose to do it that way.
"He started off a little strong -- the first eighth of his works, he's a very headstrong horse -- and I thought my rider did a good job to get him to settle. He'll come back and work next Sunday also, another easy half, and then we'll run him down the hill in the turf sprint. I think he's doing great, and he's right on schedule."
All four of Corporate Jungle's victories have come at a mile, including a Grade 3 score in the Appleton Stakes on March 31 at Gulfstream Park, but Brown feels he'll be able to manage the cut back in distance and the downhill course in the turf sprint.
"With the hill configuration and crossing the dirt and things like that, it's a tricky race," Brown said. "But I worked out in California for a while for Bobby (Frankel) and we ran a lot of milers on the cutback down the hill. Bobby did it successfully a lot. Hopefully Corporate Jungle is one of those horses that can cut back from a mile to the 6 1/2 and do it effectively. To me, he fits the profile of a horse that would be OK at the trip, if he can handle it mentally."
Brown, who won the inaugural edition of the Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2008 at Santa Anita with Maram, said he was looking forward to running both Corporate Jungle and Zagora over what will most likely be a firm course, but added that it was difficult to tell how his juveniles would react.
"The two older horses, they've shown a tendency to appreciate firm, so I feel good about running them out there," Brown said. "With two-year-olds, you just don't know. Corporate Jungle threw in a clunker at Keeneland and apparently he just didn't like the turf course because he's never done that. All his other races have been good, particularly on firm courses. I can't train them to like a turf course, I don't think. I can prepare them to run that distance of ground on that day, but whether they care for the footing or not is out of my hands."
Noble Tune captured Belmont's Grade 3 Pilgrim over yielding turf on October 8, and Watsdachances handled the same conditions that day with aplomb in winning the Grade 3 Miss Grillo. Balance the Books annexed Saratoga's Grade 2 With Anticipation and Keeneland's Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes over firm going, while Flashy Gal broke her maiden over a yielding course at Saratoga.
"If I'm certain that a horse won't (like a certain type of ground), then I avoid those kind of races, especially with a young horse," Brown said. "But of the six turf horses that I'd be running out there, four of them are two-year-olds, and it's too early in their career to make a firm opinion about that. So, we're just going to roll the dice and see what happens."
Also on Sunday morning, trainer Mike Hushion sent out Grade 1 Vosburgh winner
The Lumber Guy for his second of three scheduled works for the Breeders' Cup
Sprint. The three-year-old New York-bred son of Grand Slam breezed four furlongs
in :48 2/5 seconds, the 19th fastest of 106 works at the distance on Belmont's
fast training track.
"Since he ran so hard last time, these three works are just maintenance works," Hushion said of Barry K. Schwartz's homebred, who will be flown to California next Monday. "We're not really trying to get anything accomplished except to keep him from going backwards. We worked pretty heavy -- heavy for me anyway -- going into the last race.
"He doesn't need any :59s or :58s to get out there," he added. "We know he's capable, he doesn't have to prove anything. Just keep him happy and keep him in his hayrack and feed tub."
The Lumber Guy will be the third Breeders' Cup starter for Hushion, who saddled Noteasybeingreen to finish 10th in the 1998 Juvenile and Nothing But Fun to finish seventh in the 2005 Distaff.
"There are so many nerves involved, I don't think you ever get a chance to sit back and enjoy it," he confessed.