01/04/2008 12:00AM

Rain may derail Wait a While

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ARCADIA, Calif. - An inopportune rainstorm bearing down on Santa Anita could spoil plans for Wait a While, one of the country's top turf mares and a seemingly invincible force Sunday in the Grade 2 San Gorgonio Handicap.

Wait a While has won nine races and $1.7 million from 19 starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, but is merely mortal on wet surfaces. Pletcher and assistant Michael McCarthy are prepared to scratch if the 1 1/8-mile race is contested on something other than firm turf. Too bad, because Wait a While is on tilt.

"She is doing so good that to waste a race on a course she doesn't like would be a shame," McCarthy said. "If we get hit with a huge downpour, we probably would scratch."

That decision will be made Sunday, when Santa Anita officials will decide if the $150,000 race actually stays on grass.

"Because it is a stake, we'll do whatever we can to keep it on," racing secretary Rick Hammerle said.

However, a grim weather forecast is one reason Hammerle positioned the San Gorgonio as race 3 on the nine-race card.

"This turf course can take [rain]," Hammerle said, but he is aware anything short of firm would reduce the field size from its original six entrants. "It could be a three- or four-horse field, which doesn't do anyone any favors. We'll run the more competitive races later on the card."

Wait a While finished second last out in the Grade 1, one-mile Matriarch at Hollywood Park, and is the 121-pound San Gorgonio topweight. She benefits from the distance of the nine-furlong San Gorgonio, and a favorable pace scenario. Jockey Garrett Gomez would have her positioned on or near a tepid pace.

Absent the favorite, the San Gorgonio field is nondescript, though Lavender Sky threatens to revise that description. A 4-year-old filly whose nine career starts have been on grass, Lavender Sky finished third last out in the Grade 2 Dahlia at Hollywood and worked super early this week on the Santa Anita Cushion Track.

"She was just breezing," trainer Dan Hendricks said. "She handles it well. If it comes off turf, we're there."

A surface change would be a good test for Lavender Sky, whose aim is the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes on Feb. 10, a main-track race for 4-year-old fillies.

Also entered for Sunday are stakes winners She's an Eleven, Sohgol, Hucking Hot, and Costume.