08/16/2006 12:00AM

Wait a While will take on Lady of Venice


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Todd Pletcher's decision not to send Wait a While cross-country for Saturday's Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks creates an intriguing matchup between that filly and Lady of Venice in Friday's Grade 2, $150,000 Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga.

, a multiple-stakes-winning French-bred filly, was beaten just one length in the Grade 1 Diana when facing older fillies and mares for the first time.

Two starts back Lady of Venice won the Grade 3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs, defeating the Pletcher-trained Magnificent Song by four lengths. Magnificent Song came back to win the Grade 3 Lake George here last month.

"Lady of Venice is a very nice filly; I think her race at Churchill was very impressive," Pletcher said. "All that being said, Wait a While's performance in the American Oaks was very impressive as well. It should be an interesting matchup."

Wait a While is 2 for 2 on turf but is also a multiple graded stakes winner on dirt. Two starts back, she won the Grade 3 Sands Point on dirt going gate to wire. There is little speed in the Lake Placid.

Pletcher also starts Dancing Band, who finished fourth in the Delaware Oaks.

Trainer Patrick Biancone thought highly enough of Lady of Venice to skip the Lake Placid, where she would have been a prohibitive favorite, to run in the Diana. Lady of Venice was caught three wide on both turns, but Biancone said he believes the yielding turf course had more to do with her loss than anything else.

"Didn't like the soft going," Biancone said. "She run big, she got beat by a length for the pot. Sometimes you finish second, you know. I wasn't very confident anyway, because it's very rare to have a horse with the turn of foot she has on firm ground who can reproduce the same on the soft."

With no rain in the forecast this week, Saratoga's turf course should be firm enough for Lady of Venice.

, who ships in from Maryland for trainer Hamilton Smith, could be the early pacesetter in the Lake Placid. She won the Salem County Stakes last fall at the Meadowlands in front-running fashion. Most recently, Art Show finished third, beaten one length by Aunt Henny, in the Virginia Oaks.

"She's usually better stalking a horse," Smith said, "but if that's not the case she's comfortable on the front end."