Orville Clarke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The unbeaten ARGENTINA entered the 1,000 Guineas picture in a big way with a decisive victory in the 22nd running of the Thornbird Stakes for native bred three-year-old fillies over 1400 metres at Caymanas Park yesterday.
Ridden by the popular-claiming apprentice Prince 'Daggerman' Holder for trainer Peter McMaster and his wife Elaine (Miss Suckie), ARGENTINA, running at odds of 7-1 in a field of 10, ran on strongly in midstretch to win by three-quarter length from the Gary Subratie-trained PERFECT DAY at 6-1 under Ameth Robles.
Finishing third, another 33/4 lengths away, was the Subratie-trained LADY SHARVANI (6-1) with leading all-time jockey Winston Griffiths aboard and fourth to long-time leader SELECTABOOK (5-1) under Shane Ellis.
SELECTABOOK showed superior speed to lead by two lengths from LADY SHARVANI and 4-5 favourite OLYMPIC PROSPECT (Omar Walker up) on the inside leaving the half mile, at which stage ARGENTINA improved sharply into fourth place.
As they swung into the straight, SELECTABOOK was strongly challenged by LADY SHARVANI on the outside. Both featured in a brief duel before ARGENTINA got into top gear leaving the furlong pole, sweeping through under a strong ride from Holder to hold the fast-finishing PERFECT DAY on the rails at bay in a driving finish.
Elated with the victory
McMaster was elated with the victory and believes he now has a glorious chance of winning his first classic.
"After coming from last position to win on her New Year's Day debut, I knew she would be tough over the longer trip as she was well prepared for the race," said McMaster.
"I instructed Holder to bide his time and come the last two. And she showed a real turn of foot to give me one of the biggest wins of my career," added the trainer.
"Griffiths was offered he ride but he elected to ride Lady Sharvani, but I am hoping he will ride her in the Guineas," said Subratie, who added that ARGENTINA was selected by his associate Kingsley Rose from the farm of the breeder Lorenzo Robinson and was a buy-back at $900,000 at the 2011 yearling sale. She is a chestnut filly by Dayton Flyer out of the Texas Prospector mare Sabatini.
On a day when the 2011 champion jockey Dick Cardenas rode three winners, the Pick-9 eluded punters for a fifth consecutive raceday and the carry-over to next Saturday is $3.5 million.
The three-year-old colts and geldings will be in action next Saturday in the Prince Consort Stakes (2,000 Guineas Trial) over 1400 metres.