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Aug 24, 2007

Lady Joanne captures Alabama Stakes


Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Lady Joanne, ridden by Calvin Borel, took the lead coming off the final turn and held on to win Saturday's $600,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. The time for the 1 1/4 mile race was 2:03.62 on a fast track.

Seven three-year-old fillies went postward for the Alabama, the sister race to next week's Travers Stakes for three-year-old males. Todd Pletcher had the top two fillies in the Alabama, Octave and Panty Raid, even with Rags to Riches resting.

Pletcher decided to keep the Belmont Stakes champ out of the Alabama after missing some training earlier this summer. Pletcher will run Rags to Riches in the Ruffian Stakes at Belmont Park.

"We missed too much time and I didn't want to push the issue," Pletcher said. "If you been in this business long enough, you know it’s difficult to make schedules and promote a race a month from now. There are too many variables that could happen in between races. I'm disappointed she won't get to run here (Saratoga). I'm sure there are other people who would want to come out and see her run here. Primarily, we'll do what’s best for the filly."

Setting the pace in the Alabama was Tough Tiz's Sis followed by Folk, Lady Joanne and Octave. Panty Raid, the 2-1 post-time favorite, settled into fifth on the rail.

Heading into the far turn Folk drew along side Tough Tiz's Sis as Lady Joanne moved closer from the outside. Entering the stretch Lady Joanne took the lead with Lear's Princess second and the 5-2 second choice Octave in third.

The three fillies battled down the stretch with Lady Joanne prevailing by a neck over Lear's Princess with Octave finishing third. The top two finishers were both 9-2 on the tote board.

After a poor start Moon Catcher finished fourth followed by Panty Raid, Tough Tiz's Sis and Folk.

Lady Joanne was coming off a win in the Banshee Breeze Stakes here after a runner-up finish to Octave in the Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park in June. The Alabama win was worth $360,000 to bring the filly's career earnings to $771,834 in nine starts.

Lady Joanne is trained by Carl Nafzger for owner Bentley Smith. Nafzger trains Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense who is set to run in the Travers. Borel, who also rides Street Sense, is spending his first summer at Saratoga.

"I always heard it was nice in Saratoga, but that it was tough," Borel said. "I came in with the right horses and Carl Nafzger wanted me to come with Street Sense and the filly, Lady Joanne. That helped a lot, especially since they both won. I came here with the impression that I'd ride the big horse and ride a couple horses here and there and I won some already so I'm doing super good. I can't complain or ask for a better meet."

Lady Joanne returned $11.00, $5.30 and $3.20. Lear's Princess paid $5.30 and $3.00, and Octave paid $2.60 to show.

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