12/19/2006 12:00AM

Grande Melody upsets Dahlia


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Grande Melody rallied to upset 4-5 favorite Naissance Royale in Monday's Gradeo2, $150,000 Dahlia Handicap at Hollywood Park.

A 3-year-old filly carrying 114 pounds, Grande Melody caught Naissance Royale, the 120-pound topweight, in the final strides to win the Dahlia by a nose. Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Grande Melody ($14) ran 1o1/16 miles on turf in a quick 1:40.96.

Naissance Royale, the winner of two graded stakes in the last 18 months, finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of 12-1 Singalong in the field of 10 fillies and mares.

Both Grande Melody and Naissance Royale raced in France early in their careers before being imported to the United States.

Leparoux had Grande Melody in midpack for the first six furlongs, well behind the early pace of 23.56 and 47.66 seconds shared by Berbatim and Cross. Grande Melody did not reach contention until early stretch, when she rallied wide.

Grande Melody scored her first stakes win in the Dahlia. Owned by Joseph Allen and trained by Patrick Biancone, she has won 3 of 7 starts and $151,432.

Allen bought Grande Melody last spring before she finished ninth in the French Oaks in June, her final start in Europe. She won her U.S. debut at Keeneland in October and finished third in the Audrey Skirball-Kenis Stakes here Nov. 12 in her U.S. stakes debut.

"We rode her a bit too conservative last time," Biancone said. "We taught her to accelerate on the turn. You have to with European horses. She's a nice filly."

Biancone said that Grande Melody will be pointed for the $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 7.