08/21/2008 12:00AM

Wait a While taking shot at repeat

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Though Wait a While finished a less-than-inspiring seventh in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes last month, trainer Todd Pletcher cautions on giving up on the former Eclipse Award winner too soon.

Wait a While, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2006, will seek to bounce back in Thursday's Grade 2, $200,000 Ballston Spa Handicap, a race she won impressively last year. Wait a While entered the Diana off a six-month layoff, precipitated by an injury she suffered in California in January.

"I think she's as good as she's ever been. I don't think she's lost a step at 5, it's just circumstances more than anything," said Pletcher, whose 11 wins lead all trainers here. "Her first race this year was good, then we had a setback. I thought her work here the other day was as good as she's ever trained."

Wait a While was beaten only 5 3/4 lengths in the Diana, a race run over "good" ground. Wait a While has a preference for firm turf, which she may get despite more rain having fallen on Tuesday morning. Sunshine returned by Tuesday afternoon, and dry weather was expected through the weekend.

"I thought she ran okay," Pletcher said. "Ground wasn't perfect for her, and she was pretty wide on both turns, so we had a lot working against us coming into that race. Since then we had a perfect schedule. We're pleased with the way she's trained. We're hoping for good weather this week and a firm turf course."

Sharp Susan won the Grade 2 Lake Placid Handicap here last summer on the lead and could play out as the primary speed in this compact field. Sharp Susan, trained by Bill Mott, is coming into this race off a stalking victory in the Dr. James Penny Memorial at Philadelphia Park.

"I thought it was the right spot, but a strong race on top of it," Mott said. "Maybe it's a little confidence-builder, which she'll need, because this is a tougher group."

Rutherienne, who won the Lake George here last year, has won 9 of 14 starts overall but has finished third in her last three races, including the Diana. She does her best running from well off the pace and could be compromised by an apparent lack of speed in this field.

Carriage Trail, coming off a stakes win over the course, and Valbenny complete the field.