Octave shed her role as a bridesmaid when she won the Mother Goose (gr. I) at Belmont Park June 30 and will try to win successive grade I's when she competes Saturday in Belmont's feature race, the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at 1 1/4 miles for 3-year-old fillies.
The filly by Unbridled's Song entered the 1 1/8 mile Mother Goose off five consecutive second-place finishes in graded stakes, four of which were grade I events while the other was a grade II.
Octave's last start prior to the Mother Goose came in the Kentucky Oaks (gr.I) where she finished 4 1/4 lengths behind the winning Rags to Riches, who returned to defeat males in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Rags to Riches, a fellow Todd Pletcher trainee, was scheduled to run in the CCA Oaks before she was withdrawn from consideration after spiking a fever and missing an essential workout.
Octave's other runner-up finishes came in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) over Polytrack in Keeneland, Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), and the Matron Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont. The tough-luck filly lost by just a head in both the Ashland and the Matron.
Pletcher trains Octave for owners Starlight Stable and Donald Lucarelli, the same connections of this year's Deputy Minister Handicap (gr. III) winner Keyed Entry. Starlight Stables also co-owned two-time champion Ashado, whom they raced in partnership with Paul Saylor and Johns Martin.
Pletcher said he would have preferred that Octave have more time between races, but that he is not overly concerned with the relatively quick turn-around.
"Coming back in 21 days is a little quicker than we normally would, but the way she's training it shouldn't be a problem," said Pletcher. "If we don't run here, we'd have to either go in the (grade I) Darley Test or wait and go a mile and a quarter in the Alabama."
Martin and Pam Wygod bred Octave in Kentucky from the stakes-winning Dr. Carter mare Belle Nuit.
Octave has usually closed from midpack, but was placed more prominently in her last start by jockey John Velazquez, who will retain the mount. In the Mother Goose, which had a compact field of four, Octave raced one length off the leader in third a half mile into the race. Octave took command at the top of the stretch to win by a half-length over a determined Lady Joanne.
In order to post back-to-back grade I wins, Octave will have to beat six opponents in the CCA Oaks.
The pace advantage might belong to the quick Folk, a daughter of Quiet American trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin.
Folk has controlled the pace in her three career wins, which includes victories in the Gulf News U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas and the Al Tayer Motors U.A.E. Oaks, both coming in 2007 at Nad al Sheba in the United Arab Emirates. With the added distance and the lack of another confirmed front-runner, jockey Michael Luzzi might be able to steal the CCA Oaks by dictating the tempo of the race.
Folk will have to rebound off a 10th-place finish in the S & M Al Naboodah U.A.E. Derby (UAE-II) on Dubai World Cup night at Nad al Sheba. Facing males for the first time, Folk weakened after racing wide and finished 24 3/4 lengths behind the winner, Asiatic Boy.
Rick Mette, who oversees bin Suroor's string in New York, commented on the class of Folk's opponents in Nad al Sheba.
"I spoke to Saeed and he thought the competition in the two races she won was pretty moderate," Mettee said. "The turf racing is consistently very good over the winter in Dubai, but the 3-year-old dirt filly division is not one of the strengths. (The) Emirates Derby did not set-up well for her; she had an outside post and there was a lot of pace."
Folk, like every other entrant in the field, will race at 10 furlongs for the first time.
"The one caveat is going a mile and a quarter off the bench," added Mette. "She was able to get nine furlongs in Dubai, so we¹re hopeful she can go another furlong."
If anybody will challenge Folk up front, it will be Coy Coyote. Last time out, Coy Coyote finished second in the one-mile Without Feathers Stakes at Monmouth Park, finishing 5 1/4 lengths behind Exchanging Fire. Two races back, Coy Coyote won the Mazarine Breeders' Cup Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine. The crafty Michael Dickinson trains Coy Coyote for owner Richard Boonycastle.
West Point Thoroughbred's Lear's Princess will take an undefeated record to post when she races in the CCA Oaks. By Lear Fan, Lear's Princess has won all three of her starts, including a half-length score in the Tweedside Stakes on turf in her last outing. Lear's Princess is a deep closer and could be jeopardized by a slow pace.
The field is completed by Humble Janet, a former claimer who became grade III-placed in her last start; Wow Me Free, who enters the CCA Oaks off a 7 1/4 -length win in an allowance race at Charles Town; and Rosie's Attitude, who returns to dirt after making three successive starts on grass.
Saturday at Belmont Park is Ladies Day, where all women will receive free admission.
The field for the 1 1/4-mile CCA Oaks includes:
1-- Coy Coyote, Fernando Jara
2-- Humble Janet, Alan Garcia
3-- Wow Me Free, Javier Castellano
4-- Rosie's Attitude, Rafael Bejarano
5-- Octave, John Velazquez
6-- Lear's Pricness, Eibar Coa
7-- Folk, Michael Luzzi