11/30/2013 6:40PM

Gulfstream Park: Candy Kitty rallies to victory in Wait a While Stakes

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Lauren King
Candy Kitty, with Edgar Prado up, scores a 3 1/2-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Wait a While Stakes.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Candy Kitty showed her versatility along with a fondness for a wet track when rallying from just off the pace to a convincing 3 1/2-length victory over Spring Again in Saturday’s $100,000 Wait a While Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Hillhouse High finished third.

The Wait a While, which served as the co-feature on opening day of the 2013-14 Gulfstream Park championship meeting along with the $100,000 Pulpit, was moved from the turf to a sloppy main track due to heavy showers that began shortly after the afternoon’s first race.

Candy Kitty, whose only previous start on dirt came in her career debut at Belmont Park in June, entered the Wait a While off a fourth-place finish in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Jessamine. Owned by Starlight Racing and trained by Todd Pletcher, Candy Kitty recovered from a slow start to race well placed while saving ground behind the early leaders. Candy Kitty was eased off the rail by jockey Edgar Prado to commence her bid into the stretch, readily wore down the pacesetting Spring Again inside the eighth pole, and won going away.

Spring Again, who had never raced on dirt, was easily second best, finishing 3 1/4 lengths in front of the tiring Hillhouse High.  The Wait a While scratched down from 11 to just seven starters due to the rain.

Candy Kitty paid $7 after completing a mile in 1:37.66, 1.29 seconds faster than Storming Inti covered the same distance winning the Pulpit one hour earlier.

Pletcher said keeping Candy Kitty in the Wait a While after the race was moved to the main track was an easy decision based on the way she trains on the dirt and ran on dirt earlier in her career.

“She didn’t run badly on the dirt in her first start, but being a Lemon Drop Kid, we put her on grass and she’s done well so we sort of stuck to it,” Pletcher said. “I thought she ran great today being inside on a sloppy track, which can be intimidating for any horse, especially a 2-year-old filly. But she handled it very professionally.”

Pletcher said Candy Kitty’s victory also gives him more options in mapping out future assignments.

“I don’t think we’ll commit to a dirt campaign just yet,” Pletcher said. “I guess she’s just a versatile-type filly who’ll probably handle all three surfaces, dirt, turf, and Polytrack.”