The Phar Lap Stakes is a Group 2 race of 1500 metres for any gendered three-year-old horses run under set weight conditions at Rosehill Racecourse in Sydney during March.
Prizemoney for the race as of 2023 is $250,000.
Phar Lap Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1500m
Prize Money: $250,000
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When Is The Phar Lap Stakes: 9/3/24
What Time Is The Phar Lap Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Phar Lap Stakes: Rosehill Racecourse
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More Details About The Phar Lap Stakes
Zougotcha was the winner in 2023 and she collected the $140,000 top prize when she jumped for $1.50 in a field where the second-priced favourite was $8. Like others that have tried the Phar Lap Stakes, she jumped next in the Doncaster Mile, but she was well back, mid- pack. She is closing in on $1 million from her nine jumps, with five wins and one placing, including an easy win in the Group 1 Flight Stakes in October 2022.
The Phar Lap Stakes is held at a Saturday Rosehill Gardens meeting that features the Group 1 Coolmore Classic. The meeting is sort of an all-star homage to great horses and includes the Group 2 Ajax Stakes, and three Group 3 races, the Sky High Stakes, the Magic Night Stakes and the Pago Pago Stakes. The other major race is the Group 3 Maurice McCarten Stakes and while McCarten was not a horse, he filled the boots of two other important figures to Thoroughbred racing – jockey and trainer.
The Australian Turf Club moves races around on the calendar, not on whims alone, even if it sometimes appears that way. The Phar Lap Stakes has stayed alongside the Coolmore Classic, but the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes has, at least for 2023, been moved to a week later in the month.
The race does not often attract the top-line horses, but those still looking to make names. Many of the horses from the field are aimed at the Group 1 Doncaster Mile and the Group 1 Australian Derby.
Month is the primary month for Group grade racing at Rosehill, with approximately half of all the Group races staged there jumping in March.
History of the Phar Lap Stakes
The race made it first jump in 1973.
It would be sacrilege to call the race by any other name and while sponsors have added their name to the race – for example, the 2023 jump was the Chandon Phar Lap Stakes – the name Phar Lap has always been the major part.
Historical sources mention that Phar Lap is the only horse to jump favourite in three successive Melbourne Cups, but conveniently overlook that he won just the one try in 1930.
Beyond that, no one would dispute that if any horse deserves a race named after it, it would be Phar Lap and there are those of us that feel he deserves a Group 1 named after him.
Although we only suspect that the race grade was Principal prior to the advent of the Group classification system, we can confirm that from 1979, it was Group 2 grade.
Other than 2008, when the race was staged at Canterbury Racecourse and stretched by 50 metres, the trip has held steady at 1500 metres.
The set weight running conditions of the race see the colts and geldings given 56 ½ kilograms, while the fillies receive 54 ½.
Venue for the Phar Lap Stakes
Rosehill Racecourse in Sydney has held racing since 1885.
One of the most popular races is the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes for two-year-olds and like other metro venues, Rosehill has its very own big money race, the $10,000 Golden Eagle.
Racing is held there throughout the year, with a lot of the best races coming during the autumn carnival. The Coolmore Classic is one of the better Group 1 races anywhere, but the Vinery Stud Stakes and The Galaxy deserve mention.
The course itself has a pea- shaped triangular design, not unlike Flemington, but with softer corners.
The dimensions are fairly typical, with a circumference of 2048 metres.
Races of 1500 metres, such as the Phar Lap Stakes, jump from a chute on the northeast side of the course, providing the racers with a long straight into the “head” of the pear, and then turn onto the 408-metre home straight to finish in front of the stands at the northwest side of the track.
Racing History of the Phar Lap Stakes
The race has been won by some of the best over the years.
Principal amongst these was Luskin Star (1978), Apache Cat (2006), Winx (2015) and Verry Elleegant (2019).
We will mention each of those four when we get to the respective years of their Phar Lap Stakes wins, but we will focus more on some of the lessor known winners to look for those racers that won major races, lots of prizemoney and possibly supplied notable offspring.
As always, we will skip those that made no major impact and if we do not offer a progeny record, it is because none of those progeny were significant or the winner we are examining did not sire or drop foals.
The first winner of a race always offers historical value and in the first jump in 1973, that winner was Toltrice.
Toltrice was a mare that made 31 jumps, of which she won 14.
In the 1970s, she won at every Group grade, including Group 1 wins in the VRC Oaks
and the Thousand Guineas, although those races were not classified under the Group system in those years.
Something that often intrigues us is that despite all her wins, her prizemoney was a rather paltry $126,000, less than Zougotcha received for winning the 2023 Phar Lap Stakes.
She was a productive breeder, with eight colts and dight fillies to her name, which would put her in the Pro Group Broodmare Hall of Fame without doubt, if there were such a hall. Her best in terms of wins and money was a 1985 colt by Danzatore that won above $400,000. Danehill, Vain and Sir Tristram were some of the others that did not get much out of Toltrice.
The 1974 winner, Imagele, was another good one.
He won or placed 16 times from 20 jumps. He was the 1973 Australian Triple Crown winner and was favoured to win the 1973 Golden Slipper Stakes, but he fell and it was nice to see him get up undamaged and more or less intact to compile an impressive racing record. He stood just two seasons at stud, with nothing notable for it.
Cheyne Walk, winner in 1976, was a three-time Group 1 winner and while it is necessary to go back fairly far to find ancestors such as Hyperion and Gainsborough, his dam Fairy Walk traces lines back to Phar Lap.
He was quite productive at stud, but we did not find anything exceptional.
We are deliberately avoiding 1977 winner Blockbuster because we want some space for the 1978 winner Luskin Star.
The Star in his name is the clue necessary to identify his dad Kaoru Star and grandsire Star Kingdom. Seventeen jumps for 13 wins and 3 placings attest to his ability, although wins in the Golden Slipper Stakes and other major Group 1 races delivered just $280,000 in prizemoney.
He was sire to $1.79 million winner Bold Promise and a multitude that earned mid to high six-figure prizemoney.
There was a dead heat in 1981 between Private Thoughts and Trench Digger.
Private Thoughts was by Bletchingly and was brother to Kingston Town, with lines to Biscay and Star Kingdom. He was supplier of a good quantity of foals, even if those were not of good quality.
Co-winner Trench Digger was a gelding and had some better wins, but nothing above Group 2.
We skipped some good, if not great, racers to look at the 1987 winner, Merry Ruler. He is notable in our view because in winning the Phar Lap Stakes, he beat Cox Plate and multiple Group 1 winner Rubiton.
The two-time Group 1 winner Marwong was winner in 1988.
He might have won more, but many of his jumps in major races and the likes of Kings High, Vo Rogue and Better Loosen Up in the barriers with him. He did beat Kingston Rule in the 1990 Group 2 Carlyon Cup.
The 1990 winner, Solar Circle, tasted Group 1 glory in the 1990 Rosehill Guineas.
The 1993 winner was a New Zealand pony named Kaaptive Edition.
He won above $1.1 million from 20 jumps for 7 wins and 6 placings.
Kaaptive Edition beat no less a competitor than Rough Habit to capture the 1993 BMW.
His career at stud was productive, with many foals, a few of which won in the low to mid six-figure range.
The good race mare Arborea was winner in 1994.
She had one patch of racing where she won the Group 1 Thousand Guineas, the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes, the Group 1 Victoria Oaks, with a second and a fourth preceding her win in the Phar Lap.
Her best foal was a 1996 colt named Delta Form by Marscay that won above $524,000.
Brave Warrior was the 1995 winner.
He earned above $1 million from 22 jumps for 8 wins and 9 placings. He beat Danewin in the Group 2 Gloaming Stakes in 1994. He never quite broke through at Group 1, but he had narrow seconds to Danewin and Durbridge.
His stud record was superlative, with several offspring that flited with winning $1 million. His best by far was the 1997 named Show A Heart that won over $2.2 million.
We have seen good racers and breeders consistently winning the Phar Lap Stakes and while it pains us slightly to risk overlooking better types, we are compelled to jump forward to the 2006 winner, Apache Cat.
One of the better horses by U.S. sires, he made 43 jumps for 19 wins and 11 placings – good for more than $4.5 million in prizemoney.
His seven wins at Group 1 grade includes two Australia Stakes wins, enough to earn him the distinction of being named the Australian Champion Sprinter for 2008. He won the Doomben 10,000 and the Australian Stakes as a seven-year-old. He beat the likes of Haradasun, but he was never quite able to best Takeover Target.
It was Winx in 2015.
Given her record, we might ask what she was doing in the Phar Lap Stakes, but she often used Group 2 races as preparation for Group 1 races.
Such was the case when she jumped in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes in 2015, where she ran fifth a couple of races before she went on her streak that resulted in her winning four Cox Plates and over $26 million in prizemoney.
Along with the four Cox Plates, she had multiple wins in other Group 1 races and was the Australian Horse of the year for four seasons. Her 43 jumps for 37 wins and 3 placings seem like a typo to us every time we see it.
For all that, her stud record was a major disappointment, but she is not the first great turf performer to experience that fate.
The 2017 winner, Foxplay, was a good race mare, but she often found herself on the wrong side of Winx. Her sole Group 1 win was the 2017 Queen of the Turf Stakes.
The 2018 winner was a good filly by Fastnet Rock named Unforgotten that won $1.5 million from23 jumps for 6 wins and5 placings. Her Group 1 win was the 2018, but like Foxplay, she tangled with Winx on occasion to the usual conclusion.
Possibly one of the top New Zealanders of all time, Verry Elleegant was the 2019 winner. She won over $14.6 million from 36 jumps for 16 wins and 10 placings, including the Caulfield Cup in 2020 and the Melbourne Cup in 2021.
She won every possible Australian Horse of the Year Accolade, other than Sprinter of the Year
She is through with racing now, but she is passing along the DNA of her sire Zed and grandsire Zabeel and there are quite a few impressive names on the side of her dam Dam Opulence, including Danehill, Danzig, Strawberry Road and Imposing.
Se was served by Sea Of Stars and has thus far dropped a colt in 2022 that was named Sea Ellegant, leaving us wondering if the pedigree database neglected the second “E”.
The 2022 winner carried the name of Mr Mozart.
He is the son of Snitzel and he has earned a bit under $800,000 from 16 jumps for 5 wins and 3 placings for the Hawkes’ operation.
The Phar Lap Stakes takes a secondary seat to no other Group 2 race in Australia.
The race, as of 2023, has jumped 51 times and has attracted quality gallopers to the extent that we found no real roughies or plodders on the entire list of winners.
Phar Lap Stakes Past Winners
|2009||Heart of Dreams|
|1992||My Wanderin' Star|