THE Thousand Guineas is shaping as one of the most competitive in years with a bunch of quality fillies on a collision course to the $500,000 Group 1 feature at Caulfield on October 10.
Three of them — Stay With Me, Pasadena Girl and Jameka — ran the trifecta in super individual efforts on Saturday in the Listed Atlantic Jewell Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.
Meanwhile in Sydney, the Gai Waterhouse-trained Speak Fondly was impressive winning the Group 2 Furious Stakes (1200m) and firmed from $15 into the $7 equal Thousand Guineas favourite with the TAB.
The daughter of Northern Meteor shares favouritism with the Peter Moody-trained Pasadena Girl and the unbeaten Mike Moroney-trained Alaskan Rose, who enjoyed the day off.
Stay With Me, who swooped from the rear of the field to win the Atlantic Jewel, will only improve according to Tom Dabernig, who trains in partnership with David Hayes.
“She is a class filly. She drew wide, was caught deep and then showed an excellent turn-of-foot to win. She will head to the Thousand Guineas Prelude in three weeks and then the Thousand Guineas and I’m confident she will continue to improve,” he said of the last start Pakenham maiden winner.
While Stay With Me ($4.60) won by one-and-a-half-lengths, the effort from Pasadena Girl was the eye-catcher. The last start Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) winner was last at the 400m, circled the field and ran home in 23.17sec. She ran the fastest last 800m of the race in 46.08sec, despite covering considerable extra ground.
Jockey Vlad Duric said he would ride her “anywhere, anytime” and predicted she will be a far tougher galloper to beat as she extended in distance.
Jameka, first-up since winning the Group 2 VRC Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) at Flemington in March, showed considerable grit to finish third, three-quarters-of-a-length behind Pasadena Girl.
She was wide and facing the breeze for most of the journey but kept fighting to finish off her last 400m in 24.02sec despite the torrid trip.
Ciaron Maher’s racing manager Ben Connolly conceded it was a tough first-up effort but took solace in the fact the Thousand Guineas Prelude was three weeks away.
“That should allow her time to recover. She needed the run today, but I’m sure she’ll know she’s had a race after that effort,” he said.
Strangely she is quoted as a $21 chance for the Thousand Guineas.
Interestingly the trifecta gallopers came from barriers 14, 12 and 13 respectively, while the fourth-placed Don’t Tell Mamma, from the Tony McEvoy yard, jumped from barrier 15.
Don’t Tell Mamma ($51) ran home the fastest last 200m in 11.60sec.
Gold Coast trainer Toby Edwards was not expecting too much from Sagaronne, runner-up in the Group 1 Atkins Stakes (1600m) at Doomben in June.
She drew barrier 1 and faded from fifth at the 800m to finish 11th. However the TAB trimmed her Thousand Guineas odds from $15 into $12.