Ajax: Champion Racehorse
Ajax was sired by Australia's Heroic, himself a 21 time winner, and dammed by Ireland's Medmenham
Ajax was foaled in 1934 at Denman, New South Wale's Widden Stud.
He was trained by Frank Musgrave and ridden by Australian Racing Hall of Fame inductee Harold Badger. Badger piloted Ajax to 30 of his 36 top class victories between 1937 and 1940.
Ajax failed to run a place only one time in his entire career. He and his hoop's fame, ironically, was even more pronounced as the result of a loss at Rosehill Gardens in 1939 when being the odds on favourite at 1/40 in the Rawson Stakes, the win of which would have given Ajax a record equalling 19 consecutive.
Badger adds the further distinction of having won the Caulfield Cup the previous year after reluctantly accepting the ride on North wind at 66/1.
Racing Record as a Two-Year-Old Ajax won his first two starts, taking the winning post in the Holiday Stakes sprint, followed by the Federal Stakes.
This was followed by the VRC Sires Produce Stakes, where he failed to place for the only time in his distinguished racing career. He next produced a second place, then set an AJC Sires Produce Stakes record, winning by five lengths over the horse that had beaten him in his last outing, Caesar. He capped the season with a victory in the AJC Champagne Stakes.
Racing Record as a Three-Year-Old Ajax won the VATC Chatsworth Plate first up, followed by the Rosehill Guineas, again establishing a new time record. He narrowly lost the AJC Derby coming second losing by a length to Avenger, then set another racing record in the Caulfield Guineas.
Next came a second in the Victoria Derby losing by half a head to Hua. These races were the prelude to Ajax's 18 consecutive winning streak. He concluded his three-year-old campaign with wins in the VRC Linlithgow Stakes, VATC Futurity Stakes, where he set another record, followed by the Newmarket Handicap, C.M. Lloyd Stakes, All Aged Stakes, concluding with the AJC C. W. Cropper Plate over 1200 metres.
The summation of that season: nine wins and two seconds from 11 starts.
Racing Record as a Four-Year-Old Ajax won his seventh consecutive race first up in late August 1938, taking the 1600 metres Underwood Stakes. Seven days subsequent produced the Memsie Stakes.
A brief spell preceded a victory in the VRC Melbourne Stakes. 11 days later saw Ajax take the Caulfied Stakes. His most significant win in the W.S. Cox Plate, his longest distance to date, 2000 metres, followed shortly thereafter.
He went on to add the LKS McKinnon Stakes and a second Salinger Stakes win, then moved up to 2400 metres for a victorious run in the C. B. Fisher Plate. The VATC St. George Stakes fell next, then another Futurity Stakes win under the heavy weight of 66 kg. Next were the VRC King's Plate and the VRC C.M. Lloyd Stakes, where he was understandably heavily odds-on in both.
Then came the infamous 1939 Rawson Stakes mentioned earlier. Two victories, another All Age Stakes and C. W. Cropper Plate concluded Ajax's season, leaving him with 14 wins and one second out of 15 starts.
Racing Record as a Five-Year-Old Ajax made nine starts as a five-year-old, winning the Underwood Stakes and his second Memsie Stakes. A third place in the C. F. Orr Stakes and a second in the St. George Stakes preceded two consecutive, his third Futurity Stakes and the VRC King's Plate.
A third-place in the C. M. Lloyd Stakes came next, then a third All Aged Stakes victory before the finale to the season, a third time win for the C. W. Cropper Plate.
Racing Record as a Six-Year-Old His running career winding down, Ajax made five starts as a six-year-old. He won his third Memsie Stakes, second Melbourne Stakes and third Underwood Stakes.
A second W. S. Cox Plate narrowly eluded him by a neck and a second-place finish in the Caulfield Stakes was the closer to his brilliant career.
To summarize: 36 wins, 7 seconds and two thirds against only one unplaced out of 46 starts.
Standing at Stud Ajax stood stud from 1941 to 1948 in Australia. He produced nine winning progeny that brought home numerous Group 1 wins and more than trebled his own purse.
As a 14-year-old, he immigrated to the United States, where he eventually came to be owned by crooner Bing Crosby.
His progeny's earnings were not quite up to those of his Australian descendants', but he was still productive.
Conclusion Ajax was certainly no stayer, but his sprint and middle distance records were certainly extremely formidable, enough so to warrant his induction into the Australian racing hall of fame in 2004.
The Australian Turf Club contests the Group 2 Ajax Stakes at Rosehill Racecourse in commemoration of this remarkable thoroughbred, who will be remembered for both his exceptional abilities, along with the somewhat dubious distinction of being the shortest priced favourite to ever be defeated in Australia.