January is the start of a new year. A time to set new year's resolutions, take up a new hobby or simply settle in and watch the Magic Millions Racing Carnival unfold.
For a week in January the Gold Coast Turf Club is where it's at for the horse racing industry. The glitz and glamour of the event brings investors, trainers, jockeys and a sense of excitement to the coastal track.
The Magic Millions Carnival’s main showpiece has to be the yearling sale where owners and trainers size up the best talent at auction ready to tackle the tracks in the coming years.
Bookending that are the riches of Listed Grade racing featuring the hottest horse racing properties previously sold at the Magic Millions sales.
One of those races is the $2m Magic Millions 2yo Classic. A Listed Grade race restricted to 2yo horses that have been purchased at a Magic Millions Sale.
The Magic Millions 2yo Classic
Introduced in 1987 the Gold Coast Turf Club has seen 34 winners of the Magic Millions 2yo Classic. Such is the diversity of the yearling sale there have been plenty of winning trainers and jockeys with Gai Waterhouse having most success with 4 wins.
The 2yo Classic along with the Golden Slipper is one of the great indicator races for juvenile talent in Australia but have all the past winners lived up to the hype?
We take a walk down memory lane to see how some of those winners have fared over the years and what success have they had after scooping big money on the Gold Coast. Latest odds at Sportsbet
Magic Millions 2yo Winners & Losers
Snippets - 1987
The first winner of the Magic Millions 2yo Classic was Snippets way back in 1987. A runner for the late M.G. Lees was a big and bold horse who was noted for having significant size when winning by 3 lengths in the first Magic Millions Classic.
After winning the Gold Coast race Snippets went on to finish 5th in the Golden Slipper however went on to take out several black type races before being retired to stud as a 4 year old.
Snippets had 14 career starts before heading to stud in which he won 9 including 4 group ones that featured the AJC Sires Produce, The Oakleigh Plate and the Galaxy. As a result of such strong form around the Group 1s he was able to amass over $1m in prize money.
Testa Rossa - 1999
You can talk Magic Millions Classic winners and not talk about the great Testa Rossa for the Lawson Stable.
As a two year old he was unstoppable, absolutely trashing his 2yo Classic opponents by 4 lengths at a canter. He had started at $1.60 and looked every bit the champion when strolling over the finish line.
Testa Rossa went on to be a Group 1 winner at 3 year old and 4 year old grade before being retired to Vinery Stud where he still stands to this day at $33,000.
Notable victories included the winning of the Group 1 VRC Lightening Stakes over 1000m but then stretching out over 1600m to win the VRC Emirates Stakes from barrier 16 with 59kgs on his back.
So in demand has Testa Rossa been since retiring to Stud, yearlings sales have been an average 3 times more than the standing price.
Dance Hero - 2004
Winner of the Magic Millions 2yo Classic in 2004 Dance Hero was possibly one of Gai Waterhouse’s greatest ever 2 year olds.
2004 was a huge year for 2yo talent with Dance Hero not only competing but beating the likes of Fastnet Rock, Savabeel and Charge Forward on the way to black type glory.
As a two year old Dance Hero had the best years winning not only the Classic but the prestigious double of Golden Slipper and Magic Millions Classic in the same year. He would then go on to confirm his status as one of the greats by winning the Champagne Stakes to complete a prestigious triple crown for 2 year olds.
After going unbeaten in the 2004 / 05 season Dance Hero was still competitive but unable to replicate the same level of performance in the years to come.
He would go on to win the Canterbury and Missile Stakes before taking out a final Group 1 in the Salinger Stakes in 2006. The gelding would be retired in 2006 as a 6 year old after a disappointing season in which he finished last in the Newmarket Handicap.
Phelan Ready - 2009
It would be five years before the second of three runners would go on to do the Slipper - Classic double. Phelan Ready was bought at the yearling sale for $150,000 and was quick to repay that price tag winning the Classic after just his 3rd start.
You might consider Phelan Ready the boilover specialist when winning the 2yo Classic at $51 and then going on to take out the Slipper at $26.
What’s more amazing is that after a significant two year old career Phelan Ready didn’t really go on to achieve much making owners and trainer James McLachlan wait another 5 years until his next win in a $50k handicap at Eagle Farm in 2014.
Phelan Ready would book end his career with a pair of wins in Brisbane after winding back the clocks to win at Doomben in one of his final races. He went on to be retired in 2015 after a series of poor results having a 59 start career that featured just 4 wins.
Amazing to think that after winning $2.5 million in prize money his juvenile year he would go on to amass only a few thousand in prize money in the following 6 years up to his retirement.
Karuta Queen - 2011
Karuta Queen was a hot property in the run up to her Magic Millions Classic win in 2011 after going undefeated in 2010 including the Wyong Magic Millions 2yo Classic victory.
It was a popular win as Karuta Queen saluted as $3.50 favourite under the ride of then 19 year old apprentice jockey Tommy Berry who had been quickly ascending the riding ranks in Australia.
The Queen would go on to have mixed fortunes after starting a $1.20 favourite for the Black Opal in Canberra and getting rolled. She then went on to underperform poorly in the Golden Slipper finishing 10th of 13, again under the piloting of Berry.
As a 3 year old the filly could have had a hat trick of Group wins if it wasn’t for a little known horse called Black Caviar winning the Schillaci Stakes in between Karuta Queen picking up the Heritage Stakes and Australia Stakes.
It was a strong Spring for Karuta Queen but she was no match for the great mare who won the race by over 4 lengths at a canter under hands and heels.
Karuta Queen would go on to have a series of placings as a 4 year old with a noticeable second in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley. She would be retired as a 4 year old to kick off a career in breeding.
Driefontein - 2012
Actually finished second in 2012 behind stablemate No Looking back in a neck and neck race to the finish but was elevated to victory after a protest was upheld in the stewards room. The win gave now a 20 year old and fully qualified Tommy Berry back to back Magic Millions wins.
The mare would go on to win the Listed Grade Widden Stakes before finishing 6th behind Pierro in the Golden Slipper. She would then go on to place 4 times in her next 8 starts across black type racing without winning.
It was only as a 4 year old Driefontein came back alive winning the Group 3 Sheraco Stakes first up before going on to win the Group 1 Sportingbet R Sangster Classic in April.
In a 37 start career Driefontein went on to claim 8 wins but more frustratingly for the stable and punters alike 8 second places as well.
She went on to be retired in 2015 as a 5 year old after a poor showing in the Newmarket Handicap won by Brazen Beau.
Le Chef - 2015
Possibly one of the fastest declines in racehorse performance in history. Having won the Magic Millions Classic in 2015 Le Chef ended his career running on dirt tracks in out back Queensland.
Le Chef would have a stellar two year old career winning 3 of 6 starts under apprentice jockey Luke Tarrent for trainer Darryl Hansen before not even placing as a 4 year old in 5 starts.
Now heading into his 5 year old career Le Chef was disqualified first up before winning a pair of races at the Sunshine Coast in 2017.
In 2018 Le Chef was transferred over to trainer Jay Morris and made his debut in rural Queensland winning a $9k prize in a Class 6 race at Cloncurry. A far cry form the $1.6m once won as a two year old.
Le Chef went on to race in rural QLD up until 2019 winning further races on the dirt at Mount Isa and Birdsville. The gelding never raced outside Queensland and had the most disappointing run after a Magic Millions win of all the previous winners.
Capitalist - 2016
The shortest and yet most exciting career of any Magic Millions 2yo Classic winner being retired to stud after just 7 starts. Capitalist was a winner of the Classic and the third winner of the Classic - Slipper double 7 years after Phelan Ready last completed the feat.
Bought at the yearling sale for what now seems a poultry $165,000 Peter and Paul Snowden saw their 2 year old colt go one place away from being unbeaten in the 16/17 season. The only slight on his record being a second in Todman Stakes going down to Kiss And Make Up over 1200m.
In the build up to the Magic Millions 2yo Classic in 2016 such was the form of the colt he started $1.40 to snare a victory on the Gold Coast. He saluted emphatically with a confident 2 ½ length victory.
That price wasn’t matched when taking on the Golden Slipper title after defeat in the Todman saw his price drift to $8 much to the despair of the bookmakers.
Capitalist was retired as a 3 year old after poor showings in the San Domenico and Roman Consul were put down to a chipped fetlock. He now stands at Newgate Stud with a $44,000 service fee.
Sunlight - 2018
One of the best Tony McEvoy has trained. Sunlight won the Magic Millions after an undefeated campaign on the Gold Coast culminated in victory in the 2yo Classic.
Winning by 2 lengths in a messy race Sunlight showed real class and speed to beat a good field at $4.20. She went on to win the Silver Slipper and the Magic Night Stakes in her subsequent starts before finishing behind Estajaab in the Golden Slipper.
Many of the previous winners of the Classic have faltered in there 3 year old careers but Sunlight continued to dominate winning the Coolmore Stud Stakes, Newmarket Handicap and William Reid Stakes at Group 1 level as well as placings in the Lightning and TJ Smith to boot.
Her final win came in Victoria where she won the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes before heading to the sales. Listed as a broodmare Sunlight fetched an eye watering sum of $4.2 million at the sales.
Away Game - 2020
Last year's winner was purchased at $425,000 in the 2019 yearling sale and syndicated out to a Kentucky owners group in America. Trained by Maher and Eustace Away Game won at $41 after drifting from an opening price at $19.
Having already returned $2.76 million in prize money Away Game is setting out to make history and be the first horse to win the 2yo and 3yo feature races at the Gold Coast.
The mare was unlucky not to complete the prestigious double winning the Classic - Slipper combination after finishing 2nd behind Farnan who had an incredibly strong year.
She has every chance to win the 3yo Guineas this year and whatever happens Away Game has an exciting year ahead.