Unbeaten champion Awesome Feather puts her seven-race winning streak on the line against nine opponents in the $250,000 Gazelle Stakes (gr. I) at Aqueduct Nov. 26.
This will be just the second start of the year for Stronach Stables' 3-year-old daughter of Awesome of Course. Awesome Feather dominated Florida-bred competition last year before registering a 2 1/2-length victory as the slight favorite in the 2010 Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). She was later named champion 2-year-old filly.
Sidelined since the Breeders' Cup with a tendon injury, she returned to action after 11 months with a two-length victory in the Le Slew Stakes at Belmont Park Oct. 5.
Trainer Chad Brown has been taking a cautious approach with Awesome Feather, who has continued training at Belmont since her win.
“She’s held up really well and she hasn’t had a bad day of training,” Brown said of the 2-1 morning line favorite. “Not one day. I’m excited to see her run around two turns at Aqueduct and see what she can do in a grade I.”
The Gazelle, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, is one of four graded stakes on the Aqueduct program. It immediately follows the Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I) as the ninth race on the card with a 3:49 p.m. EST post. The other stakes to be run are for 2-year-olds at at 1 1/8 miles—the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) and the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) for fillies.
Awesome Feather, who swept last year's three-race Florida Stallion series by a combined 17 lengths prior to the Breeders' Cup, faces just one other graded stakes winner in the Gazelle, Savvy Supreme. The champ has banked more than $1.5 million in her career.
To be ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez, who has been aboard Awesome Feather for all of her starts, the bay filly will be making her first start at Aqueduct. She drew post 7 and will shoulder co-high weight of 117 pounds.
“It would be a nice reward for the Stronachs,” Brown said of a victory in the Gazelle. “They have been patient with this filly and gave me a lot of leeway with her. I just make sure she is 100% every day when we go out there, and she has been. She’s a really gutsy horse—she just has a great attitude about her.”
WinStar Farm's Savvy Supreme, winner of New Jersey's Monmouth Oaks (gr. III) in August, is one of three Kentucky-bred entrants from the Todd Pletcher barn. The daughter of Distorted Humor , also carrying 117 in the Gazelle, has raced once since that 1 3/4-length victory. She was second as the favorite in the Remington Park Oaks Oct. 16.
Ramon Dominguez will be aboard the bay filly for the first time and they will break from post 6. She is 4-1 on the morning line.
“Savvy Supreme will probably have a little vacation after this,” said Whit Beckman, assistant to Pletcher. “We’re hopeful with her. She’s been doing great. She had a little of a rough break in Oklahoma; the pace set up a little quick and she got passed at the end.”
Pletcher also entered R Gypsy Gold, pegged at 7-2 on the early line, and Love and Pride.
E Paul Robsham's homebred R Gypsy Gold, a daughter of Bernardini , registered a two-length victory in Belmont's Real Prize Stakes on a sloppy track Oct. 27. She ran third of six in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont in June.
Green Hills Farm's Love and Pride was overtaken after setting a quick pace as the 9-10 pick in the Real Prize, settling for third. The A.P. Indy fily romped by nearly seven lengths in Saratoga's Proud Spell Stakes Aug. 19. In between those two races, she was a well-beaten fifth in the Cotillion Stakes (gr. II) at Philadelphia's Parx Racing.
R Gypsy Gold gets the return services of jockey John Velazquez and will break from post 2. Love and Pride, leaving from gate 8, will have Cornelio Velasquez aboard.
Trainer Christophe Clement is represented by Waterville Lake Stables' Miss Valentine, second as the favorite in the Monmouth Oaks and most recently fourth in the Real Prize. Unlike her rivals, the New York-bred daughter of Afleet Alex has a win over the track, taking the restricted Swirlaway Stakes as a 2-year-old one year ago. Jose Lezcano has the return call on the chestnut filly, who drew the rail.
Draw It, a daughter of Tapit trained by Tom Albertrani for owner R. David Randal, seeks to snap a streak of four consecutive runner-up finishes—the past three against stakes company.
$250,000 Gazelle Stakes (gr. I, Race 9, 3:49 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Miss Valentine (NY), J Lezcano, 115, C Clement
2. R Gypsy Gold (KY), J R Velazquez, 115, T A Pletcher
3. Marion Ravenwood (KY), A Garcia, 115, H G Motion
4. Bryan's Jewel (KY), J Pimentel, 115, M Robertson
5. Draw It (KY), R Maragh, 115, T Albertrani
6. Savvy Supreme (KY), R A Dominguez, 117, T A Pletcher
7. Awesome Feather (FL), J Sanchez, 117, C C Brown
8. Love and Pride (KY), C H Velasquez, 115, T A Pletcher
9. Purple Cat (KY), C P DeCarlo, 115, J P Terranova II
10. Daring Reality (KY), O Castillo, 115, C A Lynch