10/05/2006 12:00AM

Honey Ryder looks to follow Wait a While's Act


Wait a While stamped herself as a strong contender for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf when she scored a dominant win against older competitors in Santa Anita's Yellow Ribbon Stakes last weekend. Her stablemate in the Todd Pletcher barn could also be Breeders' Cup-bound if she reverts to her early season form in Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational at 1 1/4 miles at Belmont Park.

Honey Ryder faces six rivals in the Flower Bowl, including Film Maker, who has finished second and third in the last two runnings of the Filly and Mare Turf. Pletcher and Bobby Frankel each have two horses in the race, but all horses in the Flower Bowl will race uncoupled.

Understandably, Pletcher is still basking in the glow of Wait a While's romp, but he hopes Honey Ryder can also kick up the excitement. She was a divisional stalwart for Pletcher for much of the year, including a stretch from April to July in which she won three consecutive stakes: the Grade 3 Orchid Handicap at Gulfstream Park, Belmont's Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap, and the Robert G. Dick Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap at Delaware Park. Her latest effort was a letdown, a fourth in the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park on Aug. 12.

"Her record, with the exception of the Beverly D., is exceptionally good," Pletcher said. "We felt she was a little too close to the pace. Hopefully we can get her back a little bit and let her finish up like she's capable of."

Pletcher also entered Jade Queen, who rallied to finish third in the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

Film Maker encountered traffic trouble in the Beverly D. before launching a rally that carried her to a second-place finish behind Gorella. The Beverly D. was only the second start this season for Film Maker, who had a limited campaign by design.

"This has been what we've pointed for, these two races," said trainer Graham Motion of the Flower Bowl and Filly and Mare Turf. "Our whole schedule was geared to getting her to the Breeders' Cup. Hopefully, we have her coming into these races in the best form she can."

The Flower Bowl could be the breakthrough spot for Argentina, an Irish-bred 4-year-old who started her career in Europe before being transferred to Bobby Frankel this season. Although she is winless in five starts in the U.S., Argentina has raced very well, finishing third in her last three starts, including a head loss in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga.

"She's going to jump up and win one," Frankel said. "She's been too close. She tries hard. She fires every time. The good thing about her, she likes any kind of ground."

Frankel also sends out Barancella, who most recently won a third-level allowance at Belmont.

The weather forecast for Saturday calls for a slight chance of rain, which would be welcome news for Angara. A 5-year-old trained this season by Bill Mott, Angara excels on soft or yielding turf courses. Her last two wins have come in Grade 1 races on yielding courses: the 2005 Beverly D. and the Diana in July.

Latice completes the field.