For all those wondering if and when Wait a While would return to the form that earned her top honors in the 3-year-old filly division last year, well, pardon the pun, but the wait is over.
Coming from off the pace, Wait a While made an electrifying four-wide move at the top of the stretch, picking off rivals one by one until striding out to a convincing 2 1/4-length victory in the $200,000 Ballston Spa Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) on the Saratoga turf Aug. 23.
After racking up four grade I wins in 2006, the 4-year-old daughter of Maria's Mon, out of Wavering Monarch mare Flirtatious, had not been up to top form in 2007. Although taking the Honey Fox Handicap (gr. III) in April, Wait a While was soundly defeated by My Typhoon in her last two efforts. In the Ballston, My Typhoon went off as the 9-5 favorite, while Arindel Farm’s Wait a While was the 3-1 second choice.
But after settling well for jockey Garrett Gomez throughout the backstretch, Wait a While went from fifth after the three-quarter pole to first at the top of the stretch, showing a powerful kick that left no doubt she is still one of the best turf fillies in the nation.
“People may have lost some respect for her," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "Her one race was on a Polytrack (at Keeneland); obviously, that was a throw-out. My Typhoon has been a better mare this year, and we let her get away with a :25 opening quarter in the Belmont race (Just A Game, June 9).
"After that race, she went to California but got sick. Things haven’t gone exactly right with her until today. She showed today that she is as good today as she has ever been. I thought she was impressive.”
Trainer Christophe Clement saddled Vacare and Meribel, who finished second and third, respectively. Vacare finished well and was three lengths better than than Meribel.
A sensible pace was set by Pommes Frites, who led the pack through a :24.09 opening quarter and a :47.95 half-mile. Vacare, who along with Iron Goddess pressed the pace throughout, made a bold three-wide move as the field of seven rounded the turn, looking formidable for jockey Edgar Prado. But it was short-lived, as Wait a While was just getting revved up.
“I was glad to have that good move back at the end," said Gomez. "The last time I rode her at Belmont, she might have been on the edge of getting sick or something because she was actually in a great spot. But when I pressed the button on her, she just didn’t go anywhere and it was kind of disappointing. But today it was nice to have what I expect from her, and that is her kicking home and being the professional and true champion that she is. It’s nice to have her back.”
Wait a While completed the 1 1/16-mile in 1:40-flat. She paid $8.00, $4.50 and $3.30. The exacta (7-2) paid $37.80.
My Typhoon, a winner of three graded stakes in a row, finished sixth. Amansara and Mauralakana were scratched.