01/24/2007 12:00AM

Argentinisima getting pricier by the race


ARCADIA, Calif. - The silks keep changing, but the results have been the same for Argentinisima in recent starts. She continues to win claiming races for female sprinters.

Friday at Santa Anita, Argentinisima will attempt to win her third consecutive race for a different owner when she starts in an optional claimer over six furlongs, the second race on an eight-race program.

Argentinisima is likely to go favored, and set the pace, in a field of five. Along with Sweet Ambition, Argentinisima is eligible to be claimed for a price of $62,500.

Argentinisima's value has certainly risen in recent months. On Nov. 16 at Hollywood Park, she won a $32,000 claiming races for David and Herb Alpert and trainer John Sadler, leading throughout. She was claimed that day by Bob Bone, Desperado Stables, and Suarez Racing Stable and trainer Doug O'Neill.

When Argentinisima returned to win a $40,000 claimer at Hollywood Park on Dec. 8, Sadler claimed her back, on behalf of owners Gary and Cecil Barber and La Cresta Farms.

Aside from winning, the only constant has been the presence of jockey Martin Pedroza, who retains the mount on Friday.

An 8-year-old, Argentinisima has won 7 of 35 starts and $180,029. She has raced in claiming races for the last 16 months and is taking a jump in class to start in this optional claimer.

Bob Baffert has two starters: Babe Hall and Fletchers Cove. Babe Hall, who drew the outside post and is capable of racing near the front, was fifth in her last start, an allowance race over 1o1/16 miles at Hollywood Park on Dec. 1. She won a sprint for maidens here in September 2005 and a one-mile optional claimer at Del Mar last September. Fletchers Cove won an optional claimer here in October, but has been well beaten in two subsequent starts.

The only recent stakes winner in the field is Lucky for Me, an Argentine import. Trained by Jason Orman, Lucky for Me won a Group 3 stakes over about five furlongs in her final start in Argentina in June 2006. She was a disappointing seventh in her first start in California, an optional claimer at Hollywood Park in November, breaking slowly and never reaching contention.

Sweet Ambition is adding blinkers. Trained by Peter Miller, she was seventh in an optional claimer at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 14, her eighth consecutive loss.