07/18/2008 11:00PM

Entrymates take fun out of betting


ELMONT, N.Y. - Ordinarily, a showdown between a pair of Grade 1 winning 3-year-old fillies would provide not only good drama but also a decent wagering opportunity. Such is the not the case when Mother Goose winner Music Note meets Ashland winner Little Belle in Saturday's Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont Park.

While there may be some drama, there will not be a decent wagering opportunity since Music Note and Little Belle will be coupled because both are owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Stable.

Had they been uncoupled, Music Note would likely be favored over Little Belle. Music Note, a daughter of A.P. Indy, has won three consecutive races including a 3 1/2-length score in the Mother Goose in which she defeated Kentucky Oaks winner Proud Spell. Music Note stumbled at the start, losing her right hind shoe and dislodging her left front shoe. Though Music Note won handily, she came back with several cuts and scrapes.

"She got a few nicks on her but she rebounded very quickly," said assistant trainer Rick Mettee, who oversees Godolphin's New York string for trainer Saeed bin Suroor. "She's a very athletic filly. It was pretty evident a week to 10 days after she ran she was going to be able make this. She breezed well the other day."

Little Belle was transferred from Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable to his Godolphin outfit just prior to the Kentucky Oaks where she finished second to Proud Spell. After the Oaks she moved over to Mettee's barn from Kiaran McLaughlin's. Little Belle suffered a minor setback when she tied up internally and missed some training. That basically quashed any plans of running in the Mother Goose.

"She doesn't seem to have the natural ability that Music Note does," Mettee said. "Music Note does everything right, pretty straight forward. This filly's got a lot of guts to her. She sure trains good. The last several weeks she's trained very well."

Little Belle will break from post 2 under Rajiv Maragh while Music Note drew post 5 under Javier Castellano.

Both fillies will be attempting 1 1/4 miles for the first time in the CCA Oaks. Mettee believes that distance is less of a question for Music Note than for Little Belle.

Of the three others in the field, Acoma stands the best chance to upset. A daughter of Empire Maker, she has won three consecutive races including the Grade 3 Dogwood on May 31. But trainer David Carroll fears her being too fresh and a potential pace presence going 1 1/4 miles.