The Breeders Classic is a Group 2 Thoroughbred race that is presented by the Australian Turf Club. It covers 1400 metres under set weight plus penalty conditions for mares only, aged three years and above.
The race is worth $500,000 in prizemoney, well above the prizemoney threshold of $350,000 to qualify for Group 1 status, but there are other criteria involved and apparently, in the view of the ATC and the ARB, the Breeders Classic does not tick off all the boxes.
The race recently had its slot on the racing calendar shifted. From its inception until the 2019 – 2020 racing season, the Breeders Classic was run in mid-February. The race was moved to coincide with the festivities surrounding The Everest and is now raced in early November, about three weeks after The Everest.
History of the Breeders Classic
The Breeders Classic is a newer race that debuted in 1996.
Some top horses have won, such as Savatiano (2020), In Her Time (2017) and More Joyous (2011).
For the most part, though, the Breeders Classic is contested by good, not great, horses.
As mentioned above, the race used to be part of Sydney’s autumn racing carnivals, but the race was moved to the spring racing season in the 2019 – 2020 racing season, so the race was run in autumn of 2019, and then again in spring of 2019.
The Breeders Classic has always been a sprint race. It was 1200 metres for the first year, and was then stretched to 1250 metres for 1997. It grew to 1300 metres in 1998, and then spent from 1999 – 2003 back again at 1200 metres. The unusual trip of 1180 metres was used for 2004. From 2005 until the last time the race was run in autumn of 2019, it was back to 1200 metres.
For a time, the race was known as the Hot Danish Stakes after the 2009 winner. It is still sometimes reported that way, which is far more original than Breeders Classic. Every place that holds races, practically, has a race called the Breeders Classic, or the Breeders Something Or Other.
When the Breeders Classic was run as a spring race for the first time on 9 November 2019, it was a 1400-metre event, that interesting distance that is a stretch for the pure sprinters, a shift in preparations for the milers, and a challenge for form followers.
The Group classification system was already well established when the Breeders Classic made its debut, but the race was ranked as a Listed race, which is sometimes referred to as Group 4, from 1996 – 2005. It spent the next two years as a Group 3 event, and was moved to Group 2 status in 2008.
It is certainly an exaggeration to say that the Breeders Classic has been run at more venues than it has been run period, but that is not accurate.
The race has almost rotated through Randwick, Rosehill and Warwick Farm Racecourses throughout its existence. The longest it has ever spent consecutively in one location is the period from 2003 – 2011, when the race ran at Randwick.
During the year it shifted from autumn to spring, the first race was at Warwick Farm and the second was at Rosehill, which as of now, seems to be the track going forward.
Venue for the Breeders Classic
As of mid-2021, the Breeders Classic has been run 26 times.
Eighteen of those races have taken place at Royal Randwick. It has only jumped at Warwick Farm three times. Rosehill has hosted the race five times and is the current venue.
Rosehill Racecourse in Sydney would be number two of the three main Sydney metro tracks, between Randwick and Warwick Farm.
Rosehill Gardens is located in Western Sydney about 20 kilometres west of the Sydney CBD and it is sited just south of the Parramatta River.
The course is shaped like a slightly less radical version of Flemington.
Of course, those folks up there like to run in a clockwise direction, which eliminates any further similarities to Flemington.
For a 1400-metre race, such as the Breeders Classic, the start is in a chute, followed by a long straight with the horses running in a southerly direction. They make the tight turn (nothing too tight for nimble Thoroughbreds) on the south side of the course, and then head down the long finishing straight in front of the grandstands.
For more complete details on Rosehill Racecourse, visit our page here:
Rosehill currently holds nine Group 1, 13 Group 2 and 14 Group 3 races.
In our opinion, the most significant race held at Rosehill is the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes.
Racing History of the Breeders Classic
The first time the Breeders Classic was run in 1996, it was won by a mare named Destruct.
She was a New Zealand horse that raced 29 times for eight wins and seven placings. She earned $181,000 from her racing. She won a maiden at Kembla Grange that paid her only $2300. Her next win was a Class 1 at a Provincial meeting at Hawkesbury Racecourse. She won a fillies and mares race at Randwick with Shane Dye aboard at Randwick.
She won the Breeders Classic when it was Listed. Next up, she won another Listed Race at Warwick Farm. She won one more time and that was the end of the book for her. She ran two more times, but she was near the tail of the pack both times.
New races often suffer from neglect and this would seem to be the case when Destruct won. As a Listed race in 1996, the Breeders Classic offered just $50,000 in prizemoney, so the racing stars from that era would not even have come out of their stalls.
The second race in 1997 went to Misty Dawn.
She made the identical 29 jumps as did Destruct and her statistics and earnings were much the same, too. Misty Dawn had one patch of racing where she won three consecutive and four from five races. She was ridden by Chis Munce, so she had a good rider and other good riders as well, including Corey Brown, so much as we like to think of the top riders only riding the big races, the reality is that they will take other rides to stay busy.
The records from that year indicate that Misty Dawn was one of just five horses in the race. She won so comfortably, by 4.5 lengths that her connections trotted her out for the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes the following month, where she finished third, within a length of the winner Assertive Lass, with second going to Hello Darl by a neck and a head.
With the trip out to 1300 metres for 1998, Arletty took the post.
Once again, we have a mare that made 29 jumps. The difference between Arletty and the first two winners is that Arletty got into some good races, so she earned far more than the other two, about $400,000. Arletty raced in New Zealand, where she was foaled, quite a number of times before she crossed to the mainland. She did okay at first, and then broke through to win the Group 2 Villiers Stakes at Randwick before coming out to win the Breeders Classic in her next start.
Arletty’s final win was the Group 2 Queen Of The Turf Stakes at Rosehill in 1998 and she had a pretty good run in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap. She tried to back her Villiers win in 1998, but she could muster only sixth place. After, she went back to New Zealand.
My Halo Broke took the win in 1999.
She did all right, considering most of her 30 jumps were on the provincial courses. She ran second to Al Mansour in a Listed race at Randwick. When she won the Breeders Classic, she beat Camino Rose that then returned the favour by beating My Halo Broke in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud.
Staging was the winner in 2000.
She was a million dollar winner that won four of her first seven races, with the top win being the Group 3 Coca-Cola Classic at Doomben. The Breeders Classic was her last win, but she won multiple times at Group 2 level and was near the front in races with good horses such as Bonanova and Sunline.
As the race grew in stature, the good mare Spinning Hill was the winner in 2001.
She won 14 times and placed in another 14 races from 40 jumps, earning over $2.2 million. She nearly took the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 from Favelon. She could be a little inconsistent. After the second in the 10,000, she tried the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap, where she ran a distant ninth. Her big win was the Group 1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington. Several races later, she won the Group 1 Manikato at Moonee Valley. She won that race again the following year for her final victory.
Gwendolyn, the winner in 2002, was nothing other than a stakes winner. Her win can in a year the race was held at Warwick Farm. She never won beyond Listed quality.
Miss Helterskelter took the top prize in 2003.
She was a modest horse. She won the Breeders at Randwick and thereafter, won nothing other than a minor fillies and mares handicap at Randwick.
Private Steer was the next winner in 2004.
She was better than any previous winner of the Breeders Classic, proven by the $3.4 million in prizemoney from just 20 jumps for 12 wins and five placings. She won a couple of Listed races and when they asked her to step up in grade, she responded, running second in the Doomben 10,000 and winning the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap.
Private Steer ran third to Lonhro and Grand Armee in the 2004 Group 1 George Ryder Stakes and she added the win in the 2004 Group 1 All Aged Stakes next up after she had won the Doncaster Handicap, gaining some revenge for her loss to Grand Armee. She finished with a win in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes and ran for the final time in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes.
Winning Belle, a New Zealand mare by Zabeel, won in 2005. She gave Makybe Diva a bit of a race in the 2005 Australian Cup at Flemington after she had lost the Melbourne Cup to her in 2004, where she ran a distant 17th.
Steflara, the winner from 2006, never won subsequently and she is just a footnote in the annals or Australian Thoroughbred racing.
Steflara’s Breeders Cup win came in the first year the race was promoted to Group 3 quality.
Much the same could be said about 2007 winner Pasikatera. The Breeders was her only Group win and her connections never tried her above Group 2.
Gallant Tess was the 2008 Breeders Classic. She had won an earlier race with Hugh Bowman steering and she had top riders, such as Nash Rawiller and Jeff Lloyd. Her Breeders win came the first year the race was lifted to Group 2.
Hot Danish, the 2009 winner, was by the champion Nothin’ Leica Dane. She won over $2.3 million. Near the end of her career, she ran second to Black Caviar in the Schweppes, but she was over five lengths behind. She won or ran well in Group 2 races, but the highlights of her career would have been the wins in the Group 1s All Aged Stakes and Doomben 10,000.
Alverta, the 2010 winner, ran against good horses, including the likes of Black Caviar and Hay List. Her crowning achievement would have to be the win the 2010 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes.
We finally have a notable winner in 2011’s More Joyous.
She was the Australian Champion Middle Distance Racehorse for that year. She jumped 30 times for 21 wins and two placings for nearly $4.5 million in stakes. Like some of the others that won the Breeders Classic before her, More Joyous won the Doncaster Handicap. She won eight Group 1 races in her career.
The years of 2012 and 2013 supplied us with our first multiple winner in a mare named Steps In Time. She won the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes the following year. She won over $1 million, but judging by results that were all over the map, it was hard to tell which Steps In Time would show up on any given day.
The next two years of 2014 and 2015 gave us the only other mare to win the Breeders Classic twice. Her name was Catkins and she won 16 races with 13 placings from 38 jumps. She won above $2 million. She never won above Group 2, but she consistently finished high in several Group 1 races. Her best win was the 2014 Group 1 1000 Guineas at Caulfield.
The great horse In Her Time won the race in 2017.
She won above $3.7 million. She ran The Everest for Redzel’s second win in 2018. She came close to beating Santa Ana Lane in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic. She beat Osborne Bulls to win the Group 1 Lightning Stakes and she beat English to win the Group 1 The Galaxy.
Prompt Response won in 2018.
Her crowning achievement was winning the Group 1 Tatt’s Tiara from Shillelagh at Doomben.
In 2019, when the Breeders Classic was run twice, Champagne Cuddles won in the autumn. Reelem In Ruby won in the spring.
Champagne Cuddles was a good sort, but she never won at Group 1 level. The Breeders Classic was her last win, even though she had another 10 starts.
Reelem In Ruby was similar in that the Breeders was her last win.
While it may be debatable, 2020 supplied the best winner of all in Savatiano. Her best and last win came in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes at Randwick in 2021, although she gave Kolding quite a run in the 2021 All Aged Stakes.
So we can end the debate. Savatiano was good, but More Joyous was far better.
The Breeders Classic has had a nice rise in all regards since it started as a Listed race in 1996.
It has climbed to Group 2 level and while the recent fields have been smaller, it is simply because the race is attracting better horses and there are only so many of those to go around.
|Year||Breeders Classic Winners|
|2017||In Her Time|
|2013||Steps In Time|
|2012||Steps In Time|
|1999||My Halo Broke|