It won't be easy, however. Though only six fillies and mares were entered the one-mile Matriarch, it is a tough group that includes grade I winner Precious Kitten and multiple graded winners Lady of Venice and Naissance Royale. All carry 123 pounds.
Winner of the American Oaks (gr. IT) over the Hollywood Park turf during a stellar 2006 campaign in which she won five of nine starts, Wait a While spiked a fever on her last flight to Southern California for the $1 million CashCall Mile Invitational Stakes (gr. IIT) in July and was scratched.
Pletcher later prepared the daughter of Maria's Mon for the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27 but was forced to scratch the 4-year-old gray filly when heavy rains turned the course soft.
Idle since a third-place finish in the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) Sept. 29, Wait a While is ready to go now, says Pletcher's assistant Michael McCarthy. “She’s no worse for wear and on top of her game,” he said.
McCarthy is looking forward to a clash with Lady of Venice and Precious Kitten, the one-two finishers in the CashCall Mile.
“A mile is not her ideal distance but class will overcome that,” said McCarthy of Wait a While, who has won the Honey Fox (gr. IIIT) and Ballston Spa (gr. IIT) handicaps this year while limited to five starts. Wait a While has won nine of 18 lifetime starts with earnings of $1,629,917.
Lady of Venice, part of Patrick Biancone's stable when she won the CashCall Mile, will make her first start for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who has had her for three weeks. She finished fourth in Keeneland's First Lady Stakes (gr. IIT) Oct. 6. Owner Martin Schwartz transferred the French-bred chestnut daughter of Loup Solitaire to McLaughlin with a record of seven victories in 12 starts and earnings of $1,058,771.
"I'm looking for a re-run of the CashCall Mile," said McLaughlin.
Following her runner-up showing in the CashCall Mile, the Bobby Frankel-trained Precious Kitten was an impressive winner of the John C. Mabee (gr. IT) and Palomar (gr. IIT) handicaps at Del Mar. The Catienus filly ran second, beaten a half-length by Vacare, in the First Lady.
Naissance Royale won the Las Palmas Handicap (gr. IIT) easily for trainer Christophe Clement at Santa Anita on Nov. 4 and was supplemented to the Matriarch for $10,000. The well-traveled 5-year-old mare began her career in France before joining the Clement stable in 2005.
Clement opted to not enter Vacare, a leading contender, in the Matriarch. Vacare reportedly bled during a half-mile workout at Hollywood Park Nov. 14.
Dance Away Capote won the Noble Damsel Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park in September for trainer Barclay Tagg.
“This is a big step for her,” said assistant Robin Smullen. “But if she runs her best race, she will be competitive in there. If we get her grade I stakes-placed, it will help her value as a broodmare.”
Live Life completes the field.
$500,000 Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT, Race 5, 2:32 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Lady of Venice (FR), Julien R. Leparoux
2. Wait a While (KY), Garrett K. Gomez
3. Precious Kitten (KY), Rafael Bejarano
4. Dance Away Capote (KY), Alan Garcia
5. Live Life (FR), Jose Valdivia, Jr.
6. Naissance Royale (IRE), Corey S. Nakatani
Each assigned 123 pounds.
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