06/29/2007 11:00PM

Octave has to work for first Grade 1


ELMONT, N.Y. - Octave is no longer a bridesmaid in Grade 1 company.

Though it may not have been as easy as the odds board suggested it should have been, Octave outdueled Kentucky shipper Lady Joanne through the final five-sixteenths of a mile to record a half-length victory in Saturday's $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park.

Lady Joanne, who was trying to battle back after being passed in the stretch, finished second by 7 3/4 lengths over Boca Grande. Bold Assurance, the pacesetter, was eased.

The win broke a streak of five consecutive second-place finishes in graded stakes for Octave, including a runner-up finish to stablemate Rags to Riches in the Kentucky Oaks. Octave, who won the Grade 2 Adirondack at 2, also finished second in Grade 1 events such as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Ashland, and Matron.

"She's certainly a deserving Grade 1 winner," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Octave for Jack and Laurie Wolf's Starlight Stable and Donald Lucarellli. "She was unlucky a few times; today things went her way. She was able to maneuver a nice clean trip, and she was good enough to outrun a very game filly."

Jockey John Velazquez had Octave in third position, outside of Lady Joanne, under Calvin Borel, while both were stalking Bold Assurance through six furlongs in 1:09.94. Octave and Lady Joanne hooked up at the five-sixteenths pole and it appeared as though Octave would draw off. But Lady Joanne battled back, making Octave work for her half-length victory.

"It looked like we got the jump on her and our filly might have waited a bit once she made the lead," Pletcher said.

Octave, a daughter of Unbridled's Song, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.19 and returned $3.20 as the 3-5 favorite.

The loss snapped a three-race winning streak for Lady Joanne, who won the Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes in her last start.

"I can't gripe," trainer Carl Nafzger said. "I was very happy with the ride, very happy with the race. You don't run away from good horses - you got to either beat them or you can't beat them. We couldn't beat Octave today."

Neither filly is expected back for the Coaching Club American Oaks on July 21, which is expected to be the next start for Rags to Riches, the Belmont Stakes winner.

* Big Apple Daddy ($5) took over from Gold and Roses inside the eighth pole and edged clear to a one-length victory over that rival in Saturday's $66,500 Say Florida Sandy Stakes for New York-breds. Under Fernando Jara, Big Apple Daddy ran six furlongs in 1:09.28. Expect a rematch in the John Morrissey Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 2, a race Gold and Roses won by six lengths over Big Apple Daddy last year.

* Nobiz Like Shobiz, Sightseeing, and Any Given Saturday - the top three finishers from the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in April - will face each other again in Wednesday's Grade 2, $150,000 Dwyer Stakes. Others entered include Helsinki, Believeinmenow, and First Defence.

* Commentator drew post 6 and was installed as the morning-line favorite in a field of seven for Wednesday's Grade 2, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap. Will He Shine, the True North winner, drew post 5. Godolphin entered Rondo and not Songster.