Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
The 2013 classic campaign leading up to the Guineas in April kicks off at Caymanas Park today, with the annual renewal of the Eight Thirty Sprint over the straight for maiden three-year-old fillies taking the spotlight.
Eight have been declared and, with several of the runners closely matched, the competition should be keen.
Based on her 41/2 lengths fourth to the highly thought of BIGMAN IN TOWN over 1200 metres on January 5, RHEA'S A SUPERSTAR has the most appeal.
Trained by Ryan Darby for popular owner/breeder Phillip Azar, the bay filly by Tracking out of La Cerentola has shown promise in her two starts to date, finishing second to ZACAPA on her debut over 1300 metres on Boxing Day and coming back to finish fourth to BIGMAN IN TOWN a fortnight ago.
RHEA'S A SUPERSTAR showed good speed in the backstretch before giving way to BIGMAN IN TOWN entering the straight. Her final time of 1:14.2 was not bad and, with Darby fitting her with the tongue tie for this race, she should come into her own and release the maiden certificate.
The form of her last race has begun to work out with GOODWILL BOY, who finished a length ahead of 'RHEA' in third, coming back to win easily over 1500 metres last Saturday.
RHEA'S A SUPERSTAR, who is well drawn at post position seven, can expect stiff competition from the Richard Azan-trained TWINKLING ROSE and MINNIE SUNSHINE from the Gary Subratie stables, as well as the Anthony Nunes-trained TRADITIONAL GIRL and WARRIOR PRINCESS from the Robert Pearson barn.
All should ensure keen competition, but the choice has to be RHEA'S A SUPERSTAR under champion jockey Dane Nelson, ahead of Richard Azan's TWINKLING ROSE, both having caught the eye at exercise.
Elsewhere on the programme, recent winner CLASSIC PRINCESS is expected to repeat when she faces eight opponents in the second race over 1400 metres for overnight allowance horses.
Trained by Gary Subratie, CLASSIC PRINCESS ran on strongly to catch and beat CANTARE by half a length over 1300 metres on January 1 and, although stepping up to overnight company, this will not deter her.
She faces two tough opponents in the stable companions EXOTIC GOLD (working very well) and NEW KINGSTON from the stables of champion trainer Wayne DaCosta. But CLASSIC PRINCESS will love the distance and, with 52kg, gets the nod over the 2012 Oaks winner EXOTIC GOLD under former champion jockey Dick Cardenas.
I also like CANTARE in the third race, down-in-class SACHIN in the fourth, unbeaten UNCLE TAF in the fifth, and SAHARA in the closing Track Price Plus Dig Out Handicap.