11/02/2006 12:00AM

Ouija Board's shot at history books


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - First in 2004, second in 2005, what will be Ouija Board's legacy in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf? Will she be remembered as one of the great European invaders, like Miesque, the brilliant winner of back-to-back BC Miles? Or, at age 5, and with many miles under her sturdy legs, will Ouija Board give way to a younger sister, a horse on the rise like Wait a While?

The Ouija Board saga is reason enough to tune into the Filly and Mare Turf, but the race is deep and compelling beyond her mere presence. Wait a While has never lost a grass race, has dominated her rivals so far on turf, and heads an excellent quartet of 3-year-old fillies in the race. Film Maker, like Ouija Board, will be retired at the end of this season. She has been close twice in the Filly and Mare Turf. Is this her year? And if not Film Maker, what about Honey Ryder, Wait a While's less-lauded stablemate who quietly has ascended to the top ranks of the U.S. female turf division?

At Churchill Downs, the Filly and Mare Turf is contested at 1 3/8 miles around three turns. The race drew 10 horses, and with supplementary fees added will be worth $2,200,000 this year.

Ouija Board has won just 2 of 7 starts in 2006, but take note of the horses she has faced - the cream of the European crop. Her most recent race produced a neck loss to top-class Dylan Thomas in the Irish Champion Stakes. In June, she won the Prince of Wales's Stakes over Electrocutionist. It has been two months since Ouija Board has started, but that's by design. Ed Dunlop, who trains Ouija Board for Lord Derby, considered the Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp and the Champion Stakes at Newmarket, but in the end took a pass on both.

"We want to win your Breeders' Cup again," Dunlop said of his decision to wait for Saturday's race. "The ground was too soft at Newmarket, and we didn't want to give her a very hard race coming up to this."

Ouija Board can stay close to a slow pace if needed, or come from well behind the leaders if the pace is quick. The in-race decisions fall to Frankie Dettori, who has ridden Ouija Board only three times in her 20-start career.

"The trip I'm looking for is a nice, even pace and a nice, clear run," Dettori said.

Dancing Edie is the likely pacesetter from the rail. My Typhoon, who typically races near the lead at shorter distances, figures to stay close, as does Wait a While, who has won her four grass races by a combined 18-plus lengths. Two of those turf wins have come in Grade 1 company, the most recent a blowout in the prestigious Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita. Wait a While has beaten up softer competition on firm courses that favor her running style. If she can win under more demanding conditions Saturday, Wait a While is very special.

"She's doing some things for the first time," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "Three turns, she's going to go against an accomplished international field, and she may be on softer ground than she was before. I was little concerned about the soft ground until Sunday, but she worked great on it, and if it has some cut to it, that's fine."

Honey Ryder has won 9 of her last 12 starts and 4 of her last 5. After finishing fourth in the Beverly D. at a distance shorter than her best, she came back with a game nose win over Film Maker in the Oct. 7 Flower Bowl. It was another tough-to-take defeat for Film Maker, second in the 2004 Filly and Mare Turf, third last year, but a wonderful mare who nonetheless has struggled to break through in a top race.

"I thought it was kind of her race last time," said Graham Motion, who trains Film Maker, of the Flower Bowl. "It was disappointing to get caught at the wire."

Gorella, who will run in the Mile, is trainer Patrick Biancone's best female turf horse, but Mauralakana, her Filly and Mare Turf replacement, has talent and upside, and closed well for second on Oct. 14 in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

"There's a couple of tough cookies in the race, but put it this way: If she runs the same or a little better than the other day, she's going to be at least third," Biancone said.

The two just behind Mauralakana at Keeneland were Quiet Royal and Germance, and both come back Saturday. Germance could improve at Saturday's longer distance, and another foreign horse to keep in mind is Satwa Queen, second in the Prix de l'Opera last out, and supplemented into the Filly and Mare Turf.