Friday, August 22, 2008
WAIT A WHILE WORTH THE WAIT IN BALLSTON SPA
Arindel Farm’s five-year-old gray mare Wait a While showed Saratoga Race Course fans she is what she used to be Thursday afternoon, kicking clear in the stretch to post a repeat victory in the 20th edition of the Grade 2, $200,000 Ballston Spa Handicap on the turf.
Reunited with jockey John Velazquez, Wait a While raced just off the rail in second as Sharp Susan led the field of five fillies and mares through fractions of 23.93, 47.08 and 1:10.39 over a firm Mellon Turf Course, with the portable rail out 18 feet. Moving up on the turn, Wait a While eagerly took command straightening for home and had plenty left to hold off 10-1 shot Carriage Trail for the one-length victory.
“She’s a special filly,” said trainer Todd Pletcher of Wait a While, who in 2006 earned the Eclipse award as the nation’s top three-year-old filly with graded stakes wins on both dirt and turf. “She was a champion at three and she’s won some tremendous races. Two Ballston Spas and the Lake Placid as a three-year-old were awesome races. This is her fourth year at Saratoga so when you have one that long, it gets a little extra special.”
It was the second victory in three starts this year for the daughter of Maria’s Mon, who won the Grade 2 San Gorgonio at Santa Anita on January 14, and then had a six-month break after developing a callous on her left front tibia. In her first start back, she disappointed as the favorite by finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Diana here opening weekend, a race Pletcher thought was better than it looked.
“We kind of had everything working against us in the Diana,” he said. “We had an outside post and we were hung out all the way around there. The ground was a touch soft that day, and I think that having that race under her belt set her up well for today.”
The 4-5 favorite, Wait a While returned $3.70 for a $2 win bet and earned $120,000 to extend her earnings to $1,941,917. Her overall record includes 11 victories in 22 starts, eight of them on turf.
“She came back from a layoff and it took more than a year to get back on her,” said Velazquez, who was aboard for her victory in the Grade 3 Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park in March of 2007. “She did really well. She did whatever I wanted to get my position. When I asked her, she went right away.”
Rutherienne was third, 1½ lengths behind Carriage Trail, with Sharp Susan and Valbenny completing the order of finish.
Pletcher said the next likely start for Wait a While would be on September 27 in the Grade 1, $400,000 Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita, a race she won in 2006.
BALLSTON SPA HANDICAP QUOTES
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher of favored Wait a While (No. 1; second straight Ballston Spa win): “I think firm turf is the biggest key. We kind of had everything working against us last time (in the Diana). We had an outside post and we were hung out wide all the way around there. It was actually a little better race than it looked, and it came up such a tough race. The ground was just a touch soft that day, and I think that having that race under her belt set her up well for today. We thought we would inherit the lead. It looked like the 3 was the only one capable of doing that, and when she did, Johnny (Velazquez) made the right move to let her go. And we got a perfect trip from there.
“She’s a special filly. She was a champion at 3 and she’s won some tremendous races. Two Ballston Spas and her Lake Placid as a 3-year-old were awesome races. This is her fourth year at Saratoga, so when you have one that long, it gets a little extra special.”
Pletcher said the Grade 1, $400,000 Yellow Ribbon at 10 furlongs on the turf at Santa Anita on September 27 would be Wait a While’s next likely start.
Winning jockey John Velazquez: “I rode her once last year. She came back from a layoff, and it too more than a year to get back on her. She did really well. She did everything good. She did whatever I wanted to get my position. When I asked her, she went right away.”
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