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Octave looks for her third Grade I win in the Cotillion.
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Octave Favorite on Cotillion Dance Card

Octave looks for her third Grade I win in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion (gr. II) Sept. 22.

Leading trainer Todd Pletcher will try for his fourth Fitz Dixon Cotillion Handicap (gr. II) title, as two-time grade I winner Octave leads a field of eight 3-year-old fillies for the 1 1/16-mile event at Philadelphia Park Sept. 22.

A daughter of Unbridled's Song-Belle Nuit, Octave has won four career starts and has taken a pair of graded stakes this summer at Belmont Park: the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) and Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I). Although they were her lone victories of 2007, the gray filly has been on the board in all six of her starts this year and all 11 of her career races.

Most recently, Starlight Stable and Donald Lucarelli’s Octave finished third in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga Aug. 18, after a trouble-filled stretch drive in which she was blocked on the rail by eventual winner Lady Joanne. Despite a stewards inquiry that could have possibly brought down Lady Joanne, the result stood.

Bred in Kentucky by Martin Wygood, Octave will carry a race-high 123 pounds for the Cotillion and leave from the inside post with regular rider John Velazquez aboard. The 7-5 favorite, who worked five furlongs in 1:00.41 at Belmont Sept. 16, is the lone multiple graded stakes winner in the event.

Pletcher won the event in 2002 with Smok’n Frolic, in 2004 with Ashado and last year with India.

A pace-stalker, Octave will likely be on the heels of frontrunners Bear Now and Exchanging Fire. Owned by Bear Stables, Bear Now has victories in three of her last four starts, all in stakes competition. The latest win came in the Duchess Stakes Aug. 11 at Woodbine, an impressive 6 1/4-length victory in the seven-furlong event. The daughter of Tiznow -Controlled also took the 1 1/16-mile Selene Stakes (gr. III) by eight lengths at Woodbine May 20.

Talkin About Love is another talented filly who comes in with five consecutive wins on her résumé, all at Monmouth Park. The most recent was in the Monmouth Breeders’ Cup Oaks (gr. III), her first graded stakes try. Stewart Elliott will ride the New Jersey-bred for owner-trainer Kevin Sleeter.

“We’ll have to see how she ships,” said Sleeter, acknowledging that Talkin About Love’s best races have come at Monmouth. “It’s not a far ways to go, but (Philadelphia Park) is known to be cuppy and dry. Most horses need a race to get over the track.

“Octave is tough. We’ll probably try to stay about three or four lengths off the pace. Hopefully we’ll get lucky.”

Another filly to consider is Moon Catcher, who took fourth in the Alabama after winning a pair of stakes events at Delaware Park. Trained and co-owned by Tim Ritchey, Moon Catcher won the Susan’s Girl Breeders Cup and the Delaware Oaks (gr. II). She has been on the board in seven of nine career starts, winning five. Carlos Marquez Jr. will ride.

Arkansas-bred Humble Janet, Silverinyourpocket and Syd N Carly’s Rose round out the field for the Cotillion, whose purse was increased from $500,000 to $750,000 this year.

The prestigious Pennsylvania event was inaugurated in 1969 at the now defunct Liberty Bell Park and has produced five Eclipse Award winners. It was renamed last year for the late Fitz Eugene Dixon Jr., a renowned philanthropist who was the longtime chairman of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.

$750,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 4:01 p.m. EDT), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Octave (KY), 123, John R. Velazquez
2. Bear Now (KY), 119, Jerry Baird
3. Moon Catcher (MD), 120, Carlos H. Marquez, Jr.
4. Talkin About Love (NJ), 118, Stewart Elliott
5. Humble Janet (AR), 116, Shaun Bridgmohan
6. Syd N Carly's Rose (PA), 111, Frankie Pennington
7. Exchanging Fire (FL), 115, Edwin L. King, Jr.
8. Silverinyourpocket (KY), 116, David Cohen