10/22/2007 12:00AM

Weather is critical for Wait a While

EmailELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Todd Pletcher will be just as concerned with Mother Nature as he will be any of his rivals when it comes to his champion filly Wait a While and Saturday’s $2?million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Having shown a disdain for soft ground, Wait a While – listed as the co third-choice in the Filly and Mare Turf by Daily Racing Form handicapper Mike Watchmaker – could be scratched from the race if the Monmouth Park turf course is too soft. As of Monday, there was a 60 percent chance of showers on Tuesday and a 40 percent chance of rain on Saturday.

“You never want to scratch out of any race you think you’d have a chance in, but the bottom line is she doesn’t like soft turf,” Pletcher said Monday. “If it rains for two or three days then, we might not have any choice but to look for an alternative.”

The Grade 1 Matriarch at Santa Anita on Nov. 25 “would be the next possibility,” Pletcher said.

Last year, Wait a While finished fourth to Ouija Board in the Filly and Mare Turf. Though the Churchill Downs turf course was officially listed as firm, it had rained the day before the Breeders’ Cup and was not as firm as Wait a While prefers. This year, Wait a While has had her share of disappointments, most notably having to scratch out of the CashCall Mile at Hollywood Park in July when she developed a fever after shipping cross-country.

She flashed her championship form winning the Ballston Spa Breeders’ Cup at Saratoga before finishing third as the favorite in the Flower Bowl at Belmont. Though the Belmont course was very firm, jockey Garrett Gomez said he believes Wait a While does not perform as well at Belmont as elsewhere.

Pletcher has more than one bullet to fire in the Filly and Mare Turf. He is sending Honey Ryder, a 6-year-old daughter of Lasting Approval who has won 13 of 32 starts and finished third in last year’s Filly and Mare Turf. Honey Ryder finished second to stablemate English Channel in the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth and has shown an affinity for soft turf.

On Sunday, Honey Ryder breezed five furlongs in 1:03.41 in company with Mile pre-entrant Host. Pletcher also pre-entered Panty Raid in the Filly and Mare Turf, but she is more likely to run in the Distaff if she runs at all.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien was going to wait until Tuesday morning before deciding whether to ship All My Loving from Ireland for the Filly and Mare Turf. She finished third in Sunday’s Barathea Finale Stakes at the Curragh.

All My Loving is one of four European-based fillies pre-entered in the Filly and Mare Turf, though none are considered among the elite. That explains, in part, why John Oxx, has elected to ship Timarwa here. She will be only Oxx’s third BC starter. He won the 1995 Mile with Ridgewood Pearl and finished third in the 2005 Turf with Azamour.

“She’s in the second tier of fillies over here, but maybe she could run a good race,” said Oxx, who added that the filly will be retired after this race. “She is a bit of a longshot, a bit of an outsider. She’s not in the category of what you’d normally pick to send over.”

Timarwa arrived at Monmouth Park on Sunday night, along with Passage of Time, a Group 1 winner at 2, and Simply Perfect.