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Wait a While seeks rebound
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - It has been a while since Wait a While has flashed the form that made her last year's 3-year-old filly champion. Trainer Todd Pletcher hopes the wait comes to an end in Thursday's $200,000 Ballston Spa Handicap.
On Friday, Wait a While completed her preparations for the race by working a half-mile in 48.29 seconds over the Oklahoma turf course. Jockey Garrett Gomez was up for the work, one in which Wait a While was prompted by a horse working right behind her.
"She kind of got some unscheduled company coming up behind her, but it kept her on the bridle," Pletcher said. "She's not an especially exciting work horse, but I thought that was very good for her this morning."
Though Wait a While started the year winning a solid renewal of the Honey Fox Handicap at Gulfstream Park, little has gone right for her since. She ran in the Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland, but that race was rained off the turf and run over a Polytrack Wait a While didn't handle.
In the Just a Game Breeders' Cup on Belmont Stakes Day, Wait a While let My Typhoon get away with soft fractions and could never catch that rival, who has since come back to win the Grade 1 Diana and who will run in the Ballston Spa.
Pletcher shipped Wait a While to California for the CashCall Mile at Hollywood Park. But the day before the race, Wait a While had to scratch after developing a fever. Not wanting to stress her, Pletcher shipped her to Kentucky from California where she trained for a couple of weeks before arriving in Saratoga on Monday. Pletcher had thought about running in the Beverly D., but ran out of time.
"We probably would have ended up not running anyway because the ground was soft," Pletcher said.
The Ballston Spa will likely draw Amansara, Dance Away Capote, Iron Goddess, Mauralakana, Miss Shop, My Typhoon, Pommes Frites, and either Meribel or Vacare.
Pletcher said if all goes well, he would like to run Wait a While in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita on Sept. 29. Wait a While won that race last year.
Pletcher said a start in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf depends on whether he thinks the Monmouth Park turf course will be firm on Oct. 27.
"That's going to be the deciding factor really," he said. "Firm turf at Monmouth at the end of October is anybody's guess."
Ravel points to Strub Series
Ravel, one of Pletcher's promising 3-year-olds who got injured in the spring, returned to the work tab earlier this week, working three furlongs in 38.40 seconds over Arlington Park's Polytrack.
Ravel, who won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 3, suffered a hairline fracture to his left foreleg while training toward a start in the Santa Anita Derby.
"We're not trying to make anything with him in the fall," Pletcher said. "We'll focus on the Strub Series."
The Strub Series begins with the Malibu Stakes, which traditionally is run on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita.
Better Talk Now improving
Better Talk Now, who was scratched out of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational due to a puncture wound to his left front ankle, could resume training next week, trainer Graham Motion said.
Motion said he planned to ship Better Talk Now from Saratoga to Fair Hill, Md., where he would likely begin jogging over Polytrack for a week. Motion said he took Better Talk Now to an equine spa facility at a harness track for a few days to undergo therapy for the wound. The therapy involved standing in 35-degree salt water that jetted out of the spa much like a Jacuzzi.
"The lady that had it suggested that it would speed up the healing process, and I think it did," Motion said. "You just stand there for 10 minutes. He did that for three days in a row and the wound closed up. He still has some swelling in the area, but I think by next week he can go back to training."
Motion said he hopes to have Better Talk Now ready to run in either the $300,000 Sky Classic at Woodbine on Sept. 23 or the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park Sept. 30.
"Probably would lean to the Joe Hirsch," Motion said. "It gives us another week and I would like to get him back in a Grade 1. He's won a Grade 1 this year. I think he's in the running for being one of the top turf horses, especially after the results of last week."
Motion was referring to the upsets posted by Grand Couturier in the Sword Dancer and Jambalaya in the Arlington Million.
T.D. Vance to stretch out
Immediately after T.D. Vance's victory in Monday's Troy Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs, Motion said he would keep the 5-year-old gelding sprinting. But, as every trainer is wont to do, Motion has changed his mind.
Motion wants to find out if T.D. Vance could be worthy of running in the Breeders' Cup Mile, so he will run him in either the $250,000 Kelso at Belmont Park on Sept. 29 or the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 6.
"We'd like to find out if he's that kind of horse," said Motion, who trains T.D. Vance for Don Adam. "He's a fresh horse, he won very impressively, and if he ran well in one of those races, you'd consider running him in the Breeders' Cup Mile, which kind of goes against everything I said right after the race."
T.D. Vance has already proven himself at a distance of ground, having won the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes here as a 3-year-old. He also won the Bryan Station Stakes at Keeneland at one mile that same year.
Brilliant out for the year
Brilliant, who finished fifth as the 9-5 favorite in the Fourstardave Handicap on Aug. 5, underwent surgery last Monday to remove a chip out of his left ankle and will be out for the remainder of the year.
Trainer Neil Howard said Brilliant would be pointed to a 5-year-old campaign that he hopes will begin at Fair Grounds next winter.
"He ought to come back real good from it," Howard said. "He's at our barn at Keeneland and after about 30 days he'll be turned out. We want to give him every opportunity to be what he can be."
As a 3-year-old, Brilliant won the Grade 2 Jefferson Cup and Grade 3 Kent Breeders' Cup. This year, he was beaten a nose in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve on Kentucky Derby Day. Howard said that race is Brilliant's early objective for 2008.
Sargent Seattle targets Futurity
Sargent Seattle was scratched out of Thursday's Grade 2 Saratoga Special due to a cough and a temperature, trainer Stanley Hough said Friday.
Hough said he had to treat Sargent Seattle with antibiotics Wednesday afternoon, forcing him to miss the race. Sargent Seattle was the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Special based on an impressive debut win here on opening day.
Hough said he hopes to have Sargent Seattle ready to run in the Futurity at Belmont on Sept. 15. That is also the likely next objective for Saratoga Special winner Kodiak Kowboy.
* Most Distinguished, the Amsterdam winner, worked a bullet four furlongs in 47.21 seconds Friday morning over the main track. He is preparing for the Grade 1 King's Bishop here next Saturday.