10/02/2006 12:00AM

Wait a While could scare off Gorella


NEW YORK - Wait a While was tremendous obliterating older females in Saturday's Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita. In fact, when it comes to the status of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, Wait a While might have been too good.

The Breeders' Cup Classic is always the star of the show on Breeders' Cup Day. But next to the Classic, one of the most highly anticipated Breeders' Cup races this year is the Filly and Mare Turf, due to the potential matchup between Ouija Board and Gorella. Ouija Board is, of course, a great mare. She won the 2004 Filly and Mare Turf, was second in it last year, and has had a tremendous European campaign this year, defeating the deceased Dubai World Cup winner Electrocutionist, and giving fits to such other standout males as Dylan Thomas and Shirocco. Gorella is this country's top older female grass horse, a distinction she earned when she turned apparent defeat into victory in the Just a Game Handicap, and in her immensely impressive score in the Beverly D.

Adding Wait a While, who was already the dominant 3-year-old filly turf horse in this country, and who now might be the best overall turf female in North America in light of how she ran Saturday, to the mix next month at Churchill had the potential to make this Filly and Mare Turf one of the most appealing BC races in a long time. And that takes in an enormous amount of territory. But Wait a While's Yellow Ribbon performance also might dash this scenario.

Although Patrick Biancone, the trainer of Gorella, has been publicly noncommittal about which BC race he would point his filly to, it was always understood that there was a strong chance Gorella might take another shot in the Mile, a race in which she was an unlucky third last year. Since Gorella has never raced farther than the 1 3/16 miles she went in the Beverly D., and with the Filly and Mare Turf this year being at 1 3/8 miles, and with Gorella's final BC prep being the one-mile First Lady Stakes at Keeneland, it seems the Mile is being given serious consideration as a target.

But if what transpires in these BC preps factors into the decision-making, and it should, then it could be that Wait a While's powerhouse score Saturday might tip Gorella's people in the direction of the Mile, even if that race will be far from a picnic what with Aragorn and George Washington pointing to it. If this turns out to be the case, and we don't get Ouija Board against Gorella against Wait a While in the Filly and Mare Turf, it would be too bad, yet certainly understandable. And it's not like a Ouija Board vs. Wait a While scenario is exactly shabby.

Here are other thoughts on the potential BC implications from what transpired over the weekend:

* In years past, when Turfway Park had a conventional dirt track, Kentucky Cup races like the Classic, the Sprint, and the Juvenile produced important players for the Breeders' Cup. But it's hard to envision any of that track's Kentucky Cup Day of Champions races on Saturday impacting this year's BC picture, and it is difficult not to think that Turfway's Polytrack is the reason.

This is not meant as a knock on Turfway Park. Heck, Polytrack is a perfect fit for a track like that, which races under harsh winter conditions. But when it comes to a surface on which to prep for a major race on a conventional dirt track, it has yet to be proven if Polytrack is a viable way to go. Of course, the level of horse that will compete in the BC preps at Keeneland on that track's new synthetic surface will be higher than seen at Turfway on Saturday. But until a majority of tracks that host important BC prep races adopt a Polytrack-like surface, or until a Breeders' Cup actually takes place at a track with such a surface, it will be natural to doubt BC preps run over artificial surfaces.

* Point Ashley was the top BC Juvenile Fillies prospect going into Saturday's Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita, and she still might be a prominent candidate for that race if trainer Bob Baffert's postrace claim is true - that he didn't put the hammer on Point Ashley in her training up to that race. But don't attribute Point Ashley's sound defeat as the 1-2 favorite by Cash Included to her poor draw of post 11. Cash Included broke from post 10, so she was susceptible to just as difficult a trip. But Cash Included cornered much better than Point Ashley did around both turns, and simply ran away from Point Ashley through the stretch.

* Discreet Cat walked his beat again with an absurdly easy win in Sunday's Jerome Handicap at Belmont Park, and afterward, it was a bit interesting that trainer Saeed bin Suroor did not completely close the door to his colt's possible participation in the BC Classic, even though Discreet Cat is owned by Godolphin, which represents Sheikh Mohammed and his family, and Classic favorite Bernardini campaigns for Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable. Although it seems unlikely the two colts will face each other next month, why do I have an image in my mind of Bernardini and Discreet Cat coming down the stretch together in the Classic, well ahead of the rest of the field . . . and both well in hand?