Three-year-old fillies race 1200 metres under set weight plus penalty conditions in the Group 3 P J Bell Stakes held at Randwick Racecourse each autumn as part of the ATC Championships series.
Prizemoney for the race is $200,000 as of 2023 with the top prize of $110,000 awarded to Magic Time, now currently active with a line of five jumps for three wins and one placing for $262,000 earnings.
PJ Bell Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1200m
Prize Money: $200,000
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When Is The PJ Bell Stakes: 6/4/24
What Time Is The PJ Bell Stakes: TBA
Where Is The PJ Bell Stakes: Randwick Racecourse
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More Details About The PJ Bell Stakes
After winning the P J Bell, her final autumn jump supplied third place in the Group 3 James Carr Stakes at Randwick. First up in September of 2023 found her in fifth at the Group 3 Heath 1100 Stakes at Caulfield.
The race is one of four Group 3 races that are part of The Championships. The meeting also features the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap, all to stoke the meeting for the four Group 1 races – the Doncaster Handicap, T J Smith Stakes, Australian Derby and the Sires’ Produce Stakes. At the most recent meeting, the P J Bell Stakes was at the very end.
The meeting offers the best Thoroughbreds in the country, lured to the track by the nearly $10 million in prize money on offer.
History of the P J Bell Stakes
The year of origin for the race is 1985, when it debuted as the Analie Handicap in commemoration of the great mare Analie, winner of the Doncaster Handicap, the AJC Oaks and six additional prestigious races in 1973. She was a decent foal-getter after racing – three of her six managed to earn some money racing.
The race became the P J Bell Handicap in 1995 as an honorarium to ATC chairman P J Bell, who served in the role for 10 years during the 80s and early 90s.
The race jumped as the McGrath Estate Stakes in 2010 for sponsorship reasons, returning and remaining as the P J Bell Stakes from 2011.
The race grade was Listed all the way until reaching Group 3 status in 2014.
The race trip has never undergone any substantial modifications and the race has always jumped at Randwick save for three jumps from 2011 – 2013 where Canterbury Racecourse was used.
Venue for the P J Bell Stakes
Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney is the site for the race.
Randwick is one of the top two Thoroughbred racing facilities in the entire country. A race-to-race comparison between Randwick and the other, Flemington, would give an edge to Randwick for more Group grade races than Flemington, by a considerable margin, while Flemington has the Melbourne Cup.
There might be other elements of rivalry involved, but those are irrelevant.
These days, Randwick has The Everest, the richest turf race in the world, so that equates to some major shouting rights for Randwick.
The P J Bell Stakes is one of the undercard races at the big autumn Randwick meeting that is part of the two-meeting series referred to as the ATC Championships series.
For 1200-metre races at Randwick, the racers jump from a short chute at the west extremity of the course, travel a slight angle onto the course proper, run a short straight, and then a big turn onto the home straight to the finish in front of the stands at the end of that home straight.
Racing History of the P J Bell Stakes
Some good fillies have won the P J Bell Stakes. Even those that do not rise to the level of Ortenisia (2009) or Dane Ripper (1997) were good racers. We will be examining the list for fillies that became better race mares or breeders, along with the usual criteria of form, earnings and stud results.
v The first winner of the race was 1985’s Deal.
Her limited racing supplied just two wins and it is easy to suspect that the P J Bell Stakes was the best. Her tur contribution came after being served by Take Your Partner to supply 1988’s Winning Partners, a gelding that earned over $1.5 million. Of the other three supplied by deal, two of those won almost $200,000 each.
The next winner, Sweet Dream Lady was a daughter of Luskin Star with an impeccable pedigree.
She beat solid fillies Kanacea and Extradite to win the race. She was not a great broodmare, but that is how things work out sometimes in racing.
The 1987 winner was Winged Prayer.
She was not noteworthy as a racer; she is credited with $86,000 in prize money.
She supplied four foals. A 1998 filly by Octagonal won $48,000. Tempest Command, a 1989 filly by Marauding won $71,000, while 1990’s Victory Command by Victory Prince won $40,000. It might be viewed as a victory of sorts when the winner of a Listed grade race supplies offspring that surpass her for earnings, but that might be viewed as a rationale for buying more racehorses just as easily.
That Listed grade of the early jumps of the P J Bell Stakes has determined just average types for winners to this stage, but that is to be expected for this sort of race.
We know there are some good ones coming along, though, so we resume with the 1988 winner Bronze Empress.
Her uncertain results mention five wins, but if any of the other four had been major races, it would not have been necessary to list her only other result as third place in a Group 3 race.
Foals by Canny Ladd and Huntingdale represent her entire output and neither earns a mention for racing.
The 1989 winner, St. Bridget's Well, did little as a racer other than winning the P J Bell Stakes, but she did disperse quite a bit of mainly northern hemisphere DNA by supplying seven colts and five fillies. The best of these 12 won a few races and earned $178,000.
Reverse Pass was the 1990 winner.
She was average, like the others. Her best result was second in the Group 2 Furious Stakes in 1989. She supplied five foals, with the best of them a 1996 filly that won $63,000.
The 1991 winner, Peignoir follows the pattern of the previous winners, leaving almost nothing for a racing record. Her five named foals, all colts by better sires, did nothing to impress us.
The 1992 winner of the P J Bell Stakes was Regina Madre.
This filly by Bletchingly is the third or fourth we have encountered that has connections to Star Kingdom and she was good enough to leave a form line of 14 jumps for 6 wins and 4 placings. She earned $205,000, making her the top earner to win the race to this stage in the race’s history.
Her other good win was the 1992 Darby Munro Stakes, a Listed grade race, where she beat a Group 1 winner named My Brilliant Star.
She was a most productive breeder with 13 named foals to her credit. None of these turned out great, despite the services of the likes of Danehill, Last Tycoon, Octagonal, Exceed And Excel and Testa Rossa. Eight of her progeny did earn some money racing, but the best supplied just $164,000 in prize money.
A familiar sounding name came along in the 1993 winner, Snippet's Girl.
She was indeed sired by Snippets and she managed to make 31 jumps for 8 wins and 11 placings for a prize money total of $258,000. Snippet's Girl was the supplier of eight foals, but it appears as only two won any money, and that so little as to be inconsequential in the equation that compares investment in buying, training and stabling a racehorse compared to what it earns or supplies in the breeding market.
The 1995 winner Verocative was from one of Bletchingly’s later crops.
She won six races from her 15 jumps, with three placings. She supplied 11 named foals, four by Flying Spur. Danehill was part of two and the likes of Fastnet Rock, Octagonal and Encosta De Lago all had a go, with Flying Spur colt Jet Spur winning the most money with $471,000.
The 1996 winner Presina left little behind, but she does lead into the first better type to win the P J Bell Stakes, a certain Dane Ripper.
She would be one answer to our question that often arise with these somewhat minor races, which is to wonder, given the nature of the winners we have seen to this point, what she was doing in the P J Bell Stakes.
It is possible that her $3.1 million in prize money was close to equivalent to the prize money of the 12 winners that preceded her.
She, like some of the other winners, was a product of the sire Danehill. She made 29 jumps for 12 wins and 8 placings. The 1997 Stradbroke Handicap was her first Group 1 win, followed by the 1997 Cox Plate. Next came the P J Bell win, the Group 2 Memsie Stakes in 1998, the year that found her winning the Group 1 Australian Cup, the Group 1 Manikato Stakes and the Group 2 St. George Stakes, where she beat the mighty and powerful Might And Power.
As is often seen with the better racers, Dane Ripper’s offspring, despite having her pick of the best sires, did not come even remotely close to her prowess as a racer. We counted 11 wins distributed amongst nine offspring.
The next winner to examine is Mulan Princess, the winner in the year 2000.
She was a Kiwi filly that won 6 times and placed in another 6 for $327,000 in earnings. Her larger contribution was a 2009 filly by Redoute’s Choice named Royal Descent that won above $2.5 million, a haul that included a Group 1 win in the 2013 Australian Oaks.
We now find it necessary to jump ahead, hopefully without missing anything. We don’t think there are any good racers, but one of the winning fillies may have supplied some good racers, so there is always that.
We moved all the way to 2009, when Ortensia was the winner.
The P J Bell Stakes was still a Listed grade race, with Group 3 status five years in the future, but Ortensia might be the second answer to the question about a great horse being in an average race.
She was the daughter of Testa Rossa and the line on the side of her damn Aerates Pick had some impressive names.
She raced 38 times for 13 wins and 7 placings for $2.4 million from earnings in Australia, the U.S., U.A.E. and Europe and Hong Kong.
She may have done more, but she was lined up against top racers that included Black Caviar, Danleigh and Typhoon Tracy. She did have the distinction of winning the 2009 Winterbottom Stakes as a Group 2 race, and then winning again in 2011 after the race had been elevated to Group 1 grade.
Ortensia’s offspring, just two, did make any impression as racers.
Our remaining space is for the winners since the race was lifted to Group 3 in 2014.
Politeness as the winner that year.
She managed to earn above $1.1 million from 30 jumps for 8 wins and 6 placings. Her Group 1 win in the 2015 Myer Classic put Fenway into second and Azkadellia into third. Her win in the P J Bell was over two-time Group 1 winner Cosmic Endeavour.
She was credited with just one filly by Snitzel.
We look next at the 2018 winner Houtzen.
This daughter of I Am Invincible made 19 jumps for 7 wins and 3 placings for just over $2 million in prize money.
Most of her earnings were the result of winning the Magic Million 2YO Classic in 2017. After winning the P J Bell, she won a Listed race at Doomben. Houtzen did nothing as a breeder; one unraced foal was her entire output.
The 2022 winner was Heresy.
She worked for Godolphin during her 15 jump career, where she won twice and placed in five races. Her earnings were $373,000. Now retired at age five, she has yet to provide progeny.
The P J Bell Stakes has a good slot on the racing calendar, even though it is the last race of a big Randwick meeting.
Given the number of major races of 1200 metres for three-year-olds, the P J Bell Stakes is the race run as the crowd at Randwick heads for the turnstiles after a great day of racing featuring the best horses in Australia.
With the exception of Ortensia and Dane Ripper, both of which went on to greater heights, there is not a lot to be found on the list of winners, even after the race went to Group 3 grade.
PJ Bell Stakes Past Winners
|2016||Tempt Me Not|
|2015||Miss Cover Girl|
|2012||Ever The Same|
|2007||Hot 'N' Ready|
|1994||Hot To Race|
|1989||St. Bridget's Well|
|1986||Sweet Dream Lady|