Memories of one of the all-time greats of the Australian turf were evoked when Perfect Thought won the $500,000 Carbine Club Stakes that kicked off the Derby Day program at Flemington.The John Sargent-trained colt won the 1600-metre Group 3 that Saintly won under the same colours 27 years ago.
Saintly went on to win the following year's Australian Cup and Melbourne Cup and while Perfect Thought is not expected to reach those heights he is a colt Sargent has always had a high opinion of.
"It's a good race to win, this, Chris Waller targets it a lot of time and good horses come out of the Carbine," Sargent said."We got beaten half-a-head with Brandenburg a couple of years ago and he turned out a good horse."
Perfect Thought, who was backed from $31 into $26, powered to a 1-3/4 lengths win over Elkington Road ($9) with The Fortune Teller ($10) a head away third.
Pungo, the solid $3.20 favourite, attempted to lead all the way at just his third start in a race but was swamped late and finished fifth, just over three lengths from the winner.
Strengthening the link with the late Dato Tan Chin Nam's Think Big Stud is the fact Perfect Thought is by So You Think, another champion who carried the black and white checks with yellow sleeves during his racing career.
ANOTHER WALLER STAYER DENIES CUP HOPEFULS
For the second week in a row, Chris Waller and James Mcdonald won a traditional Melbourne Cup lead-up with a horse not among the entries for the $8 million event. Surefire denied a number of rivals who were chasing the Melbourne Cup ballot exemption that accompanied victory in the $300,000 Group 3 event with a workmanlike win as a $1.90 favourite.
It came seven days after Francesco Guardi obliterated his rivals in the $1 million Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m).
Waller withdrew Francesco Guardi from the Melbourne Cup entries along the pay-up stage thinking he was not ready for a Melbourne Cup just yet and did likewise with Surefire, who the champion trainer's Melbourne assistant Jo Taylor said was in a similar boat."He's a horse that's been here a while, and as we've seen he just keeps progressing every preparation," Taylor said."He could still be 12 months away but it's just great to see him find some form and really come through, especially that Geelong Cup when he just got run down late.
"He came here today and he certainly showed he was stronger the further he went."
While Surefire is not progressing to the Melbourne Cup, runner-up Serpentine will with the Epsom Derby winner achieving the top-three finish he required to pass the first elimination clause.
Serpentine will be ridden by John Allen on Tuesday.
The two runners who were safely in the Melbourne Cup field before the Archer Stakes, Crystal Pegasus and Alegron, will not be taking their place after finishing third and sixth respectively.
ARGENTIA AFFIRMS STRAIGHT-TRACK CREDENTIALS
Argentia affirmed her love of the Flemington straight and all but assured future campaigns will be geared around feature races over the famous piece of turf with her win in the $200,000 Group 3 Rising Fast Stakes (1200m).Co-trainer Sam Freedman flagged the prestigious Newmarket Handicap (1200m) as an autumn target, but hinted that she might be seen in a Group 1 sprint at Flemington before then.
"We'll give a little bit of thought to next week (G1 Champions Sprint) with her," Freedman said.
"Maybe she's not up to them but it's Cup week. She's in great form and these mares in form sometimes it's just best to keep them going."
The $3 million Group 1 Champions Sprint (1200m) will be one of the highlights of next Saturday's final day of the Carnival with The Everest winner Giga Kick to renew hostilities with champion sprinter Nature Strip.The Rising Fast Stakes win, in which Damien Oliver was in the saddle, was
Argentia's first straight-track run since her brilliant debut win over 1100m in June 2021.
Her two have starts at Flemington have resulted in Group 2 second placings, in this year's Kewney Stakes and Rose Of Kingston Stakes, both over 1400m.
Asfoora added to her reputation as one of the country's most promising sprinting fillies with victory in the $200,000 Furphy Sprint that rounded out the Derby Day card.The Henry Dwyer-trained four-year-old backed up her Group 2 Caulfield Sprint (1000m) success earlier in the month with a solid win in the 1100-metre Group 3.
The daughter of Flying Artie carried 5kg more than she did at Caulfield and handled her first straight-track performance with aplomb to take her career record to six wis from eight starts.
Dwyer's sights are firmly set on the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m), which next year will be run at Sandown.
"That's always been the long-range plan," he said. "I think winning today we won't have the luxury of having another run before the Oakleigh Plate (so) she'll go in first-up.
"She'll have a nice four weeks in the paddock now and get her back in the autumn for Sandown."
BUICK SUSPENDED BUT FREE TO RIDE AT BREEDERS CUP
William Buick incurred the stewards' wrath at Flemington on Derby Day, but will be free to fulfil his engagements at next weekend's Breeders' Cup meetings.
Buick was suspended for his ride aboard Kissonallforcheeks in the Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes with stewards taking exception to interference caused to Palaisipan at the 200m.
The suspension commences after Tuesday's Melbourne Cup meeting, where he will ride Without A Fight in the main race, and conclude on November 11.
However, under the provisions of LR 104C(b), Buick is permitted to take his mounts at the Breeders' Cup meetings this Friday and Saturday.