07/19/2007 12:00AM

Octave one talented backup


ELMONT, N.Y. - Though he has to keep Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches in the barn, trainer Todd Pletcher will still be favored to win his seventh Grade 1 race of the year with a 3-year-old filly when Octave faces six rivals in Saturday's $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont Park.

Octave, who won the Grade 1 Mother Goose, became Pletcher's entrant for the Coaching Club when Rags to Riches developed a fever last weekend. Pletcher had been thinking about running Octave in the seven-furlong Test at Saratoga on Aug. 4.

Pletcher feels Octave ran well enough in the 1o1/8-mile Mother Goose to suggest the 1 1/4 miles of the CCA Oaks is within her scope.

"It looked like galloping out she still had something left," Pletcher said. "I think she's proven to this point that she's one of the best of her generation, so I think someone's going to have to step up and run a big race, because she always runs well."

Octave, who was second to Rags to Riches in the Kentucky Oaks, will break from post 5 under John Velazquez.

Folk and Lear's Princess are the two major threats to Octave.

Folk, a daughter of Quiet American, won two stakes against fillies in Dubai before finishing 10th of 13 against males in the UAE Derby. Though this will be her first start in 16 weeks, her connections are confident that Folk, the probable pacesetter, will fire fresh.

"If you look at her form, when she's good and fresh and well she tends to run well," said Rick Mettee, the assistant trainer for Godolphin Racing. "We're thinking we're going to get a good performance."

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was under the impression the CCA Oaks was going to be a five-horse field, so he convinced the West Point Stable to put up the $1,500 fee to enter the undefeated Lear's Princess. While he could scratch Lear's Princess to run in the Lake George on turf next week at Saratoga, there is a part of McLaughlin that wants to try her on conventional dirt after two starts on turf here and one on Keeneland's Polytrack.

"She trains great on the dirt," McLaughlin said.

On Wednesday, trainer Michael Dickinson said Coy Coyote would not run in the race because of a temperature. He altered course on Thursday when all other signs indicated the filly was healthy. In her only start this year, Coy Coyote finished second in the Without Feathers at Monmouth Park.

"It is a gamble," Dickinson said. "We are concerned, but she checked out [fine] every other way."

Completing the field are Humble Janet, Wow Me Free, and Rosie's Attitude.