Winning Time is Now for Wait a While
by Jack Shinar
Date Posted: 9/24/2008 8:00:38 PM
Last Updated: 9/27/2008 2:12:29 PM
Wait a While is the horse to beat in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes.
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A refreshed Wait a While returns to one of her favorite turf courses as the horse to beat in the $400,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes (gr. IT) on the turf at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet Sept. 27.
The Yellow Ribbon victor is guaranteed a place in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf Oct. 24 at Santa Anita as part of the "Win and You're In" challenge series.
An Eastern shipper from top trainer Todd Pletcher's barn, Wait a While is two-for-two at Santa Anita. She won the 2006 Yellow Ribbon by 4 1/2 lengths in 2006 as well as the San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. IIT) over the course this past January.
After a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Diana (gr. IT) as the favorite at Saratoga over good going July 26, the 5-year-old daughter of Maria's Mon bounced back to win the Ballston Spa Handicap (gr. IIT) over a firm course Aug. 21.
"I felt like her last win in the Ballston Spa was as good as she's ever ran," Pletcher said. "She's a bigger, stronger mare now, than she was when she won the Yellow Ribbon as a 3-year-old. So, we're very confident that she's every bit as good or better than she was in her championship 3-year-old year."
Arindel Farm's star has been training at Churchill Downs since the Saratoga meet ended.
Wait a While has won 11 of 22 starts overall (including eight of 13 tries on grass) while earning $1,941,917. After winning the Yellow Ribbon in 2006, she finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs. With John Velazquez aboard, she will break from the extreme outside in the field of 10 going 1 1/4 miles.
Her main rival is Doubledown Stables' Black Mamba, who clicked for her first grade I win for trainer John Sadler in the John C. Mabee Handicap (gr. IT) at nine furlongs over the Del Mar turf Aug. 3. After seven consecutive in-the-money stakes performances without a win, the 5-year-old New Zealand-bred mare finally broke through with a victory in the 1 1/4-mile Beverly Hills Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park.
"She was close a lot of times," Sadler said, "and she had two good trips in her last two races, and they were very key wins, because one was a grade I and one was a grade II, so we're feeling very good right now.
"Overall, I'm excited about this meet. We're looking forward to it. We should be well-represented (in the Breeders' Cup)."
After two sub-par efforts to begin the year for trainer Christophe Clement, Vacare came from far back in Del Mar's Palomar Handicap (gr. IIT) to tally as the favorite in her last race Aug. 30. Owned by Jon and Sarah Kelly, the 5-year-old Lear Fan mare won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) as a 3-year-old at Keeneland. She ran fourth in the Diana this summer.
Lael Stables' Valbenny returns to the West Coast for trainer Bobby Frankel in search of her first win since the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park in June 2007. She was off more than eight months before making her 2008 debut in May.
I Can See, second by just a half-length to Black Mamba in the Mabee at odds of 24-1, figures to be a price play for trainer Steve Knapp.
$400,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes (gr. IT, Race 9, 4:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. High Heel Sneakers (GB), Victor Espinoza
2. Vacare (KY), Corey S. Nakatani
3. I Can See (KY), Joel Rosario
4. Black Mamba (NZ), Garrett K. Gomez
5. Valbenny (IRE), Alex O. Solis
6. Solva (GB), Aaron T. Gryder
7. Gula Gold (KY), Michael C. Baze
8. Marzelline (IRE), Tyler Baze
9. Live Life (FR), Julien Couton
10. Wait a While (KY), John R. Velazquez
Each assigned 123 pounds.
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