09/25/2008 12:00AM

Wait a While shoots for another title


ARCADIA, Calif. - Two years ago, en route to the title of champion 3-year-old filly, Wait a While crushed seven rivals in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita.

A similar scenario may occur this year.

Wait a While will be favored in Saturday's $400,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes and is a contender for another championship, the title of turf female. This running of the Yellow Ribbon, over 1 1/4 miles on turf with a field of 10, will offer a more difficult test for Wait a While, who races for Arindel Farm and trainer Todd Pletcher. She faces the Del Mar stakes winners Black Mamba (Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap) and Vacare (Grade 2 Palomar Handicap).

Wait a While, who will be ridden by John Velazquez, recorded one of her finest performances in her last start, a one-length victory in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 21. In that race over 1 1/16 miles on turf, Wait a While was timed in a quick 1:39.70.

"The older she gets, the faster she gets," said Michael McCarthy, trainer Todd Pletcher's assistant in California. "Everyone expects a lot from her. She's a champion, and everyone expects a lot from a champion. Right now, she's super."

Wait a While's victory in the Ballston Spa helped soften the disappointment of a seventh-place finish in the Diana Handicap at Saratoga on July 26. The Diana was Wait a While's first start since an easy win in the Grade 2 San Gorgonio Handicap at Santa Anita in January. Wait a While is unbeaten in two starts on Santa Anita's turf, an asset considering the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, her long-term goal, is run here Oct. 24. The Yellow Ribbon winner will receive an automatic berth to the BC Filly and Mare Turf.

Wait a While has won 11 of 22 starts and $1,941,917. A win or a second in the Yellow Ribbon will put her past $2 million in career earnings.

First, she must hold off late threats from Black Mamba and Vacare.

Black Mamba has not started since winning the Mabee Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf on Aug. 3. Saturday's race will determine whether Black Mamba is supplemented to the $2 million BC Filly and Mare Turf.

"You don't want to kid yourself when you're talking about putting up a bunch of money," trainer John Sadler said, referring to the $300,000 supplement.

Sadler admits that Black Mamba did not face the toughest fields when she won the Mabee or the Grade 2 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park in June.

"She caught the right fields," Sadler said. "If we're going to put up all that money, we want to see her against a better field. There is a lot to like."

Vacare is trying 1 1/4 miles for the first time, but did win the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland over 1 1/8 miles in October 2006.

"We don't think the distance will be too much of a concern," said Nicholas Bachalard, trainer Christophe Clement's assistant. "She ran well and came back good. We have to beat Wait a While and Black Mamba."