Wait's Worth it for Filly Champion in Honey Fox

Wait's Worth it for Filly Champion in Honey Fox
Photo: Equi-Photo/Bill Denver
Champion Wait a While, won the Honey Fox Handicap in her 2007 debut.
Arindel Farm's Wait a While, last year's Eclipse Award winner as the nation's top 3-year-old filly, started her 2007 season in fine style, going virtually gate to wire to win the $100,000 Honey Fox Handicap (gr. IIIT) as the prohibitive favorite on the Gulfstream Park turf Sunday.

Carrying 123 pounds -- six to 10 more than each of her six rivals -- in her first start since finishing fourth behind older distaffers in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 4, Wait a While was in sharp form, completing the 1 1/16-mile distance in an impressive time of 1:39 1/5 on firm going. 

John Velazquez was aboard the Todd Pletcher trainee for the first time since they finished second in last April's Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland. The gray daughter of of Maria's Mon was keen to go from the start. After being headed for a couple of strides by Brazilian, Wait a While took command. She led the rest of the way while posting fractions of :23 4/5, :47 3/5 and 1:11. Wait of While left Brazilian behind on the final turn and took a 1 1/2-length lead into the stretch.

Velazquez roused the filly in upper stretch and she opened up a two-length lead at the furlong pole. She finished willingly under a hand urging to defeat the stalking Precious Kitten, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, by 1 1/4 lengths. Precious Kitten was moving well through the stretch but could not make an impact on the winner. The Irish-bred Chaibia, Cornelio Velasquez aboard, launched a menacing bid on the turn to reach contention but flattened out in the stretch and finished third, two lengths behind the runner-up.

“There wasn’t much speed in the race," Velazquez noted. "I let her break and she broke well. She was awesome. I gave her one spank and she took off.”

“She gave some nice horses a lot of weight today," said Pletcher, who won his fourth graded stakes at Gulfstream in the past two days. "She was fresh coming off the layoff. It was a very good performance. I can’t say right now what might be next. Most of the races for her division come along later in the season like the Cash Call Mile (Hollywood Park), Beverly D (Arlington Park) and Yellow Ribbon (Santa Anita). There’s no rush with her, but it’s possible she could run in something at Keeneland before then."  

In her championship season Wait a While won on both dirt and turf, including grade I triumphs on the lawn in the American Oaks (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park and the Yellow Ribbon (gr. I) at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting prior to the Breeders' Cup. In the Filly & Mare Turf, Wait a While tracked the leaders while four wide into the stretch but failed to show her customary fire through the lane, finishing 4 1/4 lengths behind the champion mare Ouija Board. Saturday's win, her eighth in 14 lifetime starts, increased her earnings to $1,368,917 for owner Alan Cohen, owner of the NHL's Florida Panthers.

W.S. Farish and W. Temple Webber Jr. bred Wait a While, a $260,000 Ocala sale in February 2005, in Kentucky. She is out of the A.P. Indy mare Flirtatious.

Sent off at odds of 2-5, Wait a While paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10. Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Precious Kitten, last seen winning Churchill Downs' Mrs. Revere (gr. IIT) Nov. 18 by a neck for trainer Bobby Frankel, returned $3.80 and $2.10. Chaibia, second in the Athenia Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Belmont Park inner turf course last out Oct. 15, was $2.10 to show.

Aunt Henny, Miss Shop, Brazilian and Aerocat followed. Toll Taker scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)

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