Awesome Feather – Trainer Chad Brown sent the unbeaten 4yo filly out for a 1 1/2m gallop at 9:45 Wednesday morning.
“She trained beautifully,” Brown said. “I’m very happy with the way she looked.”
Awesome Feather is an intriguing member of what is being described as one the deepest fields in Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic history. She won the 2010 Juvenile Fillies to cap an Eclipse Award winning season. After being sold at auction, she was found to have a bowed tendon in her left front leg. New owner Frank Stronach asked Brown to try to get the filly back to the races, but never gave him a timetable.
“I’d don’t think there was one particular decision or move that was made,” Brown said. “The overall approach to how we handled this filly allowed her to get through it. This is a special horse. I could try to come up with this or that that we did. We did do things to help her, but the horse is really responsible for all the good that she has done.
“She deserves all the credit. She has her own way about her. She takes good care of herself. Fortunately, she has a body that can deal with injuries and she finds a way to heal herself and get through them all.
“We’ve never trained one day when she’s been lame. Never. If she’s ever showed any hint of a lameness coming on or inflammation, we stopped. Anytime anyone has seen her on the track, morning or afternoon, she’s been 110 percent. That’s been our approach and we’ve been lucky she’s been that way, to my surprise.”
Class Included – Although an Emerald Downs-based runner might be expected to have no issues with the early morning fog, Class Included’s scheduled early training was pushed back until later in the session Wednesday morning.
“The fog rolled in pretty thick so I waited and sent her out later,” said Kay Cooper, the daughter of and assistant to trainer Jim Penney, while she watched the Mike and Amy Feuerborn homebred gallop 1 1/2m under exercise rider Donny Smith.
The 4yo daughter of Include has won six of seven starts this year, including four straight, at Emerald Downs and Hastings Park, and now steps up to a bigger stage.
“She loves it down here. She loves the ambiance at Santa Anita, the big crowd and all of the excitement. She’s thriving in this environment and is doing awesome,” Cooper said. “I know that this is a very tough race, her toughest yet. And I know that she’s going to try her best. What I don’t know is just how good our filly is, because she has always done everything so easy.”
Grace Hall – Grace Hall, who was bred by Darley in Kentucky, is a daughter of Empire Maker out of Season’s Greetings. After purchasing her, along with the rest of a partnership, for $95,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale, Mike Caruso never considered a combination of her dam and sire’s names as her sobriquet.
Caruso, a three-time champion wrestler at Lehigh University in the mid 1960s who is a trustee emeritus at his alma mater, named the filly for the venue where he triumphed - Grace Hall. The wrestling arena, named after Bethlehem Steel president and Lehigh alumnus Eugene Grace, held a reputation for being intimidating to opponents.
The multiple graded stakes-winner, who ran second in the Juvenile Fillies last year, is owned by Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables LLC, which includes Caruso. She was a passenger on the last flight that arrived from New York at noon Wednesday.
While unable to get Grace Hall on the grounds because of Hurricane Sandy and the storm’s aftermath, trainer Anthony Dutrow had her gallop and kept her fit at Fair Hills Training Center (Md.) near his Delaware Park base. He reported that she has never been better and is coming into the Ladies’ Classic at the top of her game.
Dutrow, who had also been stuck on the east coast, was scheduled to arrive in Arcadia on Wednesday afternoon as well.
Include Me Out – The 4yo filly walked shedrow at Santa Anita Wednesday morning after being shipped from Betfair Hollywood Park Tuesday. Assistant Alfredo Morfin supervised for trainer Ron Ellis.
Owned by Jay Em Ess Stable, Include Me Out has won three of six starts on the main track at Santa Anita, including the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes at the Ladies Classic distance of 1 1/8m.
Love and Pride – The 4yo daughter of A.P. Indy went out for her daily gallop at Santa Anita shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday and continued to train forwardly for Friday’s Ladies’ Classic.
“She seems like she’s really thrived since her race here (won Zenyatta Stakes on Sept. 29),” Mike McCarthy, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Obviously it’s one of the tougher races of the two days of the Cup, if not the toughest, so she’ll need to bring her ‘A’ game. If you want to beat Royal Delta, everybody needs to bring their ‘A’ game.”
Love and Pride is the only one in the field of eight for the Ladies’ Classic that has accomplished that feat this season, knocking off the defending Ladies’ Classic and Eclipse Award winner in the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga in late August.
“That’s a big factor,” McCarthy said. “We’ll try to see if we can get lucky twice.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who remained in New York during Hurricane Sandy, was expected to arrive at Santa Anita after a cross-country flight Wednesday afternoon.
Green Hills Farm’s Love and Pride has won four of eight starts in 2012 and is 2-for-2 since Pletcher removed blinkers from her equipment for the Personal Ensign.
My Miss Aurelia – Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, who will be putting her undefeated record on the line in the Ladies’ Classic, galloped over the main track Wednesday.
“This is an extremely deep and talented field, but she’s giving every indication that she’s up to the task,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “We knew early on how special she was. Her wins last year in the Adirondack and Frizette were picture perfect. We feel equally confident this year. She’s been right there at every stage, but these are certainly deeper waters than last year.”
Questing – Godolphin Racing’s Questing galloped 1 1/2m under exercise rider Javier Fragoso at Santa Anita Wednesday morning before schooling in the paddock.
Questing will be making her second appearance in a Breeders’ Cup race, having finished fifth in the 2011 Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs. It was the daughter of Hard Spun’s first dirt appearance after running on turf in her first three starts in Europe.
“It didn’t look so great, because she got beat quite a ways, and any kind of number you looked at was slow, so it wasn’t a good sign,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who took over the training of Questing from English trainer John Gosden following the Breeders’ Cup.
McLaughlin started Questing on turf two times, a fourth-place finish at Gulfstream in March and a fifth-place finish at Belmont in May.
“We decided in June it was either try her again on dirt or send her home,” McLaughlin said.
Questing won her next three starts, including the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama.
“It took us a while to put her back on the dirt, but Gosden always thought she’d do well on the dirt,” McLaughlin added.
Royal Delta – Besilu Stable’s champion filly galloped about 1 1/4m on the main track Wednesday morning, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said.
The daughter of Empire Maker won the Ladies’ Classic in 2011 and was pre-entered this year in the $2 million Ladies’ Classic and the $5 million Classic. It was decided that she would stay in her own division rather than tackle males in the Classic.
“Our original plan was to run in the Ladies’ Classic,” Mott said. “Looking at the competition in there, it’s very competitive in both races. I felt that running against the girls was probably the way to go. I guess it’s probably a conservative approach, but we have discussed Royal Delta running next year and discussed long ago that if she were doing well (next year) to run her in the Classic.
“I think that is a valid plan. You never know how many races a horse has left in them, but she’s going to be a 5yo next year, and if you’re going to reach out a little bit, there’s no reason not to do it at that time. She’ll be a little older, and if she’s in as good a form as she is now, I think we’d be more than happy to take a shot.
“But the fact is that this isn’t going to be her last race, and we have another chance to do that.”
Mott acknowledged that racing is something of a “now business,” so full of uncertainties and variables that horsemen often don’t pass on an immediate challenge with a healthy and sound horse.
“There’s something to be said about that. But it’s not like we’re going over there and running for peanuts,” he said. “We’re running for a very important race, and I would think that if she would run well in the Ladies’ Classic, if she were lucky enough to win another one, she sews up another (Eclipse Award) championship. That, for me, would be wonderful.”
Mott said that the filly is recovering nicely from the small cut on her right rear that she suffered while being shipped from Newburgh, N.Y., on Monday. Royal Delta was slightly injured when she was being backed into her stall on the plane.
“Everything is still good. She’s feeling very good,” Mott said. “The wound looks good. It’s a non-issue.”