08/17/2007 11:00PM

Lady Joanne survives inquiry in Alabama

Tim Burns/Horsephotos
Lady Joanne (right), under Calvin Borel, holds off Lear's Princess by a neck to win the Alabama.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - One week before they attempt to capture Saratoga's top prize for 3-year-old colts, trainer Carl Nafzger and jockey Calvin Borel teamed up to win this meet's most prestigious race for 3-year-old fillies when Lady Joanne won a stirring stretch duel to take Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama by a neck over Lear's Princess.

It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Octave in third. Panty Raid, the 2-1 favorite, finished fifth.

Lady Joanne had to withstand a stewards' inquiry into the stretch run when it appeared that she shut off Octave in deep stretch. The stewards ruled that John Velazquez, the rider of Octave, never stopped riding his filly, and thus there was no need to disqualify the winner.

Borel said Lady Joanne switched leads at the point in question, prompted by a challenge to her outside from Lear's Princess.

Borel gave Lady Joanne a confident ride, as he had her three wide outside of Octave while Tough Tiz's Sis set the pace, chased by Folk down the backstretch. Tough Tiz's Sis set fractions of 23.48 and 47.56 seconds with Folk chasing and Lady Joanne in third.

Around the turn, Lady Joanne and Lear's Princess made three and four-wide moves, respectively. Lady Joanne came into the stretch with the lead and looked like she was going to pull away. Octave split horses in upper stretch and dove to the inside for the final furlong, while Lear's Princess was mounting a bid from the outside.

There appeared to be enough room for Octave to come up inside of Lady Joanne if she had enough run, but she never was able to squeeze through before things got tight.

Lady Joanne, a daughter of Orientate, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.62 and returned $11 to win.

"I had [Octave] where I wanted at all times,'' Borel said. "When [Lear's Princess] went up to the outside of me I had to go on. When she got a length or two in front she kind of pulled up and let that horse come up to me and she took off again.''

It was the first Grade 1 win for Lady Joanne (pronounced JO-nee), named after owner Bentley Smith's wife. It was Lady Joanne's sixth win from nine career starts.

This Saturday, Borel and Nafzger will attempt to win this meet's biggest prize for 3-year-old colts when they run Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense in the Travers.