Kentucky Oaks hopeful Wait a While works a half-mile at Churchill Saturday morning.

Kentucky Oaks hopeful Wait a While works a half-mile at Churchill Saturday morning.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Balance in Sharp Drill for Oaks; Wait a While Works

(from Churchill Downs notes)
Amerman Racing Stables' Balance sharpened up for her May 5 engagement in the $500,000 added Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) with a five-furlong work in :59 3/5 on Saturday morning at Hollywood Park.

Regular jockey Victor Espinoza was in the saddle for trainer David Hofmans. The move over a "fast" track by Balance was the second fastest of 33 at the distance.

"She went awesome," Hofmans said. "Her last three-eighths were in 34-and-three. We worked her with another horse, and then another horse inadvertently tied in at the three-eighths pole."

It was the first work for the daughter of 1995 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Thunder Gulch since she finished third as the 1-2 favorite in the Ashland (gr. I) at Keeneland April 8.

"I think it was a lot like Bluegrass Cat and First Samurai last week in the Blue Grass, that she just didn't handle the track," Hofmans said. "She will work again Friday, and then we will ship Saturday."

Balance won the Las Virgenes (gr. I) and the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) in her first two starts of the year.

Back at Churchill Downs, trainer Dallas Stewart sent his Oaks hopeful Lemons Forever to the track after the renovation break Saturday and the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid  responded with a five-furlong work in 1:01 4/5 over a track labeled "good" under exercise rider Pedro Velez.

"I thought she worked well," said Stewart. "She's been very consistent, and I think she's got a shot."

The move ranked eighth among 13 at the distance.

The filly is co-owned by Stewart and Leon, Willis, and Terry Horton. Stewart said jockey Mark Guidry would have the mount in the Kentucky Oaks on the third-place finisher in the Bourbonette Breeders' Cup (gr. III).

Arindel Farm's Wait a While tuned up for her Oaks bid with a half-mile work for trainer Todd Pletcher on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

The gray daughter of Maria's Mon breezed just after the break for track maintenance and covered the four furlongs in :49 over a "good" track. The move was the third fastest of seven moves at the distance, and Pletcher was pleased with the work.

"She's been a consistent filly," said Pletcher. "She's run some races in which it looked like she was good enough. When she hasn't been able to win, she's run hard."

Wait a While's strongest performance to date was a romping 14-length victory in the Davona Dale (gr. II) over a "sloppy" track at Gulfstream Park. She followed that with a third-place run behind Teammate in the Bonnie Miss (gr. II), and then chased front-running winner Bushfire in a runner-up finish in the Ashland Stakes over the speed-favoring Keeneland course.

"She wouldn't mind an 'off' track," said Pletcher. "It wouldn't hurt our feelings if it rained for the Oaks, but we'll see."