(Edited press release)
As his Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Rags to Riches targets the July 21 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), trainer Todd Pletcher has given the nod for Octave to start in Saturday’s $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. The nine-furlong race, which is restricted to three-year-old fillies and is the second leg of the Triple Tiara, drew a compact field of four horses.
Octave will be seeking her first grade I win after finishing second in five consecutive races, including the Matron Stakes (gr. I), Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), Ashland Stakes (gr. I), and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). The Mother Goose will be her first start since finishing behind Rags to Riches in the Oaks May 4.
“It looks like she’s coming out of a key race,” joked Pletcher. “I think she’s been a little bit unlucky not to have won a couple of the bigger races. I thought she was the best filly in the Ashland; she ran into some traffic issues at Fair Grounds, and obviously ran into a monster in the Kentucky Oaks."
Starlight Stable and Donald Lucarelli campaign the gray Unbridled's Song filly, who won the 2006 Adirondack Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) before developing seconditis.
“She’s really trained excellent,” said Pletcher, who won his first and only Mother Goose in 1998 with Jersey Girl, his first big-time stakes horse. “She runs well fresh, never runs a bad race, and she’s always right there. One turn is not a problem.”
Lady Joanne will easily start as the second choice for trainer Carl Nafzger. By the 2002 sprint champion Orientate , Lady Joanne enters the Mother Goose with prior stakes victories in Churchill Downs’ Golden Rod (gr. II) and Dogwood (gr. III) Stakes. Overall, she has won four of six starts for her owner, Bentley Smith Revocable Trust Agreement.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey achieved his first Mother Goose victory two years ago with Smuggler for the Phipps Stable, and Saturday, he sends out Boca Grande for the same connections. A multiple grade II winner, the A.P. Indy filly recently ran fourth behind Pletcher's Cotton Blossom in the June 9 Acorn Stakes (gr. I).
Rounding out the field is Manhattan Racing Stable's Bold Assurance. Mark Hennig trains the Stormy Atlantic filly, who has won two of seven starts and is seeking her first stakes victory. All of the fillies will carry 121 pounds.
Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I), $250,000, Belmont Park, June 30, approx. post 4:43 p.m. ET
PP. Horse, Jockey:
1. Octave, John R. Velazquez
2. Bold Assurance, Garrett K. Gomez
3. Lady Joanne, Calvin Borel
4. Boca Grande, Javier Castellano