07/15/2005 11:00PM

R Lady Joy turns tables on Round Pond

Mary Lyons/Hoofprints
R Lady Joy and jockey Jose Lezcano take the Delaware Oaks at 17-1.

STANTON, Del. - R Lady Joy picked up only small pieces of the purse in her first two tries against graded stakes company, including a decisive loss to Round Pond, the even-money favorite in Saturday's $500,000 .

But trainer Kirk Ziadie was brimming with confidence for R Lady Lady Joy's first start in nearly two months in the Oaks.

Not a lot of people shared Ziadie's optimism, as bettors sent off R Lady Joy at 17-1, the second longest shot in a field of six 3-year-old fillies for the Grade 2 Oaks. Ziadie, however, got the last laugh.

Taking the lead from tiring California shipper Brooke's Halo after six furlongs, R Lady Joy ($36) withstood a stretch challenge from Round Pond to win the Oaks by a length.

Round Pond, whose four-racing winning streak was snapped, held on for second, a half-length in front of Dance Away Capote. R Lady Joy, a daughter of Vicar owned by Richard Averill of Bradenton, Fla., covered 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy main track in 1:43.25.

Round Pond was coming off a victory in the Grade 1 Acorn. But her jockey, Stewart Elliott, said Round Pond didn't respond the way she usually does when he asked her for her best run Saturday.

"She was backing up on me," Elliott said of Round Pond's stretch run. "I thought I had the winner, but she didn't have that punch."

Ziadie, 36, said R Lady Joy had assorted physical problems when she finished third, beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Round Pond, in the Grade 2 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park in April, and again a month later when she was second in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico.

"I went to the owner and told him to give me two months and I will clean up in the Delaware Oaks, I don't care who's in it," Ziadie said. "She was having a little bit of problems physically. She didn't switch leads and she swallowed her tongue, so we had to put on a tongue tie."

R Lady Joy's jockey, 20-year-old Panama native Jose Lezcano, also misjudged the finish line at Oaklawn Park.

"I'm not saying we would have won," Ziadie said. "But the jockey pulled up at the sixteenth pole because he thought that was the wire."

In the Black-Eyed Susan, R Lady Joy encountered early trouble, Ziadie said, when the reins broke on a nearby horse, who bumped into R Lady Joy.

Although R Lady Joy was previously 0 for 3 on wet tracks, Ziadie said he was not concerned about the sloppy surface.

"She's a real bulldog," Ziadie said. "She runs on anything."