For a long time, it looked as though Octave would never break her reputation as a bridesmaid. Five consecutive second-place finishes – all in graded-stakes competition – earned her that tag. But two grade I wins later, all that talk is in the past.
Now that the 3-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song has proven herself a winner, she is the one to beat in the $600,000 Alabama (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 18. Octave, who has competed in eight consecutive graded stakes, broke her string of seconds in the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park July 30, winning by a half-length over Lady Joanne, who is also in the Alabama field of seven. Three weeks later, she took the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) at the same New York track by the same margin. A three-time graded stakes winner, Octave is attempting to become the fifth filly to capture the Mother Goose, Coaching Club Oaks, and Alabama. Sky Beauty was the last to do so in 1993.
Trainer Todd Pletcher told Daily Racing Form his talented filly, who has won or run second in all 10 of her lifetime starts, is a model of consistency.
“She has never run a bad race," he said. "She has been a little bit unlucky a couple of times this year, I think. In the Ashland (in which she lost by a head), one more jump and she gets up. She was bottled up in traffic around the turn, had to go very wide, and the winner (Christmas Kid) snuck through on the inside.”
Octave, who has earned more than $1.2 million and gets regular rider John Velazquez, will be making her third start in seven weeks for Starlight Stable and Donald Lucarelli. She was bred in Kentucky by Martin Wygod.
Pletcher has a second talented filly in the Alabama, a contest for 3-year-old fillies, run at 1 1/4-miles. Panty Raid, a daughter of Include , has also been very consistent, placing in five of her six career starts.
Bred in Kentucky by Heaven Trees Farm, Panty Raid has won three in a row, the last two in graded stakes company. Ridden both times by Edgar Prado, she scored in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) and most recently in the American Oaks Invitational Stakes (gr. I) at Hollywood Park July 7.
“She’s a master of winning all of those races,” Pletcher said. “It would be hard to criticize her record. I think she’s better on the dirt; Edgar thinks she’s better on the turf. If you had seen her work, you would likely agree with me.”
Panty Raid has earned nearly $700,000 for Glencrest Farm.
Since getting nipped in the Mother Goose by Octave, Lady Joanne has come back to take the Banshee Breeze Stakes at Saratoga July 30. A daughter of Orientate, she has won five of eight lifetime starts (two graded stakes) for trainer Carl Nafzger and owner Bentley Smith.
“This is her big, ultimate test,” Nafzger said. “I think she can get the mile-and-a-quarter. That’s not the problem. It’s the other horses. That’s the bigger problem. I like these races. It’s fun. I want to win, but as a trainer, I just enjoy a lot of good horses.”
Moon Catcher, trained by Tim Ritchey, gets the inside post and will be looking for her third win in a row. Most recently, the daughter of Malibu Moon won the Delaware Oaks (gr. II) July 14.
Tough Tiz’s Sis, Lear’s Princess and Folk round out the field. The latter two finished second and third to Octave, respectively, in the Coaching Club.
Alabama Stakes (gr. I), $600,000, Aug. 18, 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/4 miles, approx post 5:20 p.m.
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Moon Cather, 121, Kent Desormeaux
2. Panty Raid, 121, Edgar Prado
3. Tough Tiz's Sis, 121, Rafael Bejarano
4. Octave, 121, John Velazquez
5. Folk, 121, Garrett Gomez
6. Lear's Princess, 121, Eibar Coa
7. Lady Joanne, 121, Calvin Borel