The Group 2 Sapphire Stakes is a 1200 metre Group 2 sprint for fillies and mares aged three years and above competing under set weight plus penalty conditions at Randwick Racecourse during the autumn ATC Championship series.
Unlike the lucrative Group 2 races at the meeting that offer $1 million in prize money, the Sapphire Stakes has the more modest and more common Group 2 prize money of $300,000.
Sapphire Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1200m
Prize Money: $300,000
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When Is The Sapphire Stakes: 13/4/24
What Time Is The Sapphire Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Sapphire Stakes: Randwick Racecourse
How To Live Stream The Sapphire Stakes
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Zapateo won in 2023 to earn the top prize of $170,000 with an easy win from the field of 15. She has not won in five jumps since winning, but she has placed three times in two Group 1 and one Group 2 win.
Zapateo has impeccable credential on both sides of her pedigree table and she currently presents form of 21 jumps for seven wins and seven placings for over $990,000 as of mid-October 2023.
The Sapphire Stakes is surrounded by four major Group 1 races on the big autumn meeting day at Randwick. The ATC Championships is one of the best meetings of the autumn portion of the racing calendar.
The racing on the day includes the Sydney Cup, ATC Oaks, Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Queen of the Turf Stakes. These four Group 1 races account for $9 million in prize money. The two boosted Group 2 races – the Percy Sykest Stakes and the Arrowfield 3YO Sprint each add another million dollars to the stakes. Another $700,000 comes from the Listed races and the $300,000 from the Sapphire Stakes ensures that the better horses will be present.
There have been numerous horses named Sapphire and there are races around the world named the Sapphire Stakes. It is possible that an Australian mare from 1880 that won the VRC Oaks might be the namesake for the race, but that is pure speculation.
History of the Sapphire Stakes
The race is a relative newcomer, having first jumped in 1998.
The trip has remained 1200 metres throughout, as has the name of the race, save for 2010, when the race was named to commemorate the recent death of former Australian Punter Prime Minister Sir William McMahon’s wife Lady Sonia McMahon as the Lady Sonia McMahon Memorial Stakes.
The Group classification system was well established by the time the first Sapphire Stakes was held, so it was Listed grade, then Group 3 beginning in 2002, and then Group 2 beginning in 2007.
Venue for the Sapphire Stakes
Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney is the only home the Sapphire Stakes has even known.
Randwick first held racing on the present-day site in the early 1830s. After a period of laying fallow as a training ground only, the facility was put to good use when the Australian Jockey Club made Randwick its headquarters.
Randwick is home to many of the venerable races that have transversed Australian history as societal and historical events both major and minor have played out in other realms.
A few of the 20 Group 1 races Randwick stages annually are the Australian Derby, Queen Elizabeth Stakes, All Aged Stakes and Doncaster Handicap.
There are 18 Group 2 races and 12 Group 3 races, with much attention from 2017 due to The Everest, a special conditions race now worth $20 million in prize money, a jump from the old figure of $15 million that rewarded the winner with $6.2 million.
Races of 1200 metres at Randwick jump from a chute that leads onto the course proper. After mostly straight racing from the first 600 metres, the racers turn for about 200 metres, and then head for home down the 400 metre finishing straight to cross the line in front on the stands on the east side of the course.
Racing History of the Sapphire Stakes
The Sapphire Stakes has supplied good types as winners, although as of 2023, the race has jumped just 26 times, so there is not a vast repository of racing history, but we will look at the winners to identify any that had success as juveniles or as older racers. We will also look for those that earned good prize money and those that supplied noteworthy racers after retiring from racing to take up breeding.
The winner of the first jump of the Sapphire Stakes in 1998 was What Can I Say. There is no question mark at the end of that name, which probably supplied some comfort to race callers.
It might be logical to think that having a horse named What Can I Say would be unique, but we identified four. The one of interest to us was a New Zealand filly that dropped in 1993. She was northern hemisphere on both sides and her grand sire was Seattle Slew that won the U.S. Triple Crown as a three-year-old.
What Can I Say never won at Group 1 level, but we can say that she beat Star Covet into second and Tie The Knot into third in the 1998 Group 2 Warwick Stakes at Warwick Farm, but other than this and one other jump at Flemington, What Can I Say did the rest of her racing in New Zealand.
She made 20 jumps for eight wins and six placings for $226,000 in prize money.
Her progeny consisted of seven colts and five fillies. She supplied Zabeel with three and other good stallions had their way with her and nine of her 12 foals earned some money racing, with the best being a 2000 filly by End Sweep named Only Words that won almost $600,000 from 13 jumps.
The next winner was Snippet’s Lass.
This 1993 daughter of the top sire Snippets was not exceptional in any way, with 41 jumps for 7 wins and 13 placings earning just $288,000.
Her win in the Sapphire Stakes was clearly her best and it came to her after she ran second after the first past the post, Little Pattie, was disqualified for a positive swab for banned performance enhancing substances.
She was viewed as having good breeding potential and was served by Fastnet Rock, More Than Ready and twice by Redoute’s Choice.
Snippet’s Lass was dam to Snitzel, the winner of more than $1 million that won the 2006 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate and was a great sire following his brief racing career.
Next came the dual winner Spinning Hill.
Her 40 jumps for 14 wins and 14 placings earned above $2.2 million, with two wins in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes in 2002 and 2003. She beat Bomber Bill and Mistegic to win the Group 2 Schweppes Stakes in 2002 and her win in the Group 2 Schillaci saw her winning over Favelon and Mistegic.
Her stud output was one filly from 2011 that left no significant racing record and scant progeny.
The 2002 Winner wads Fair Embrace.
Fair Embrace won above a million dollars in prize money, but she made 53 jumps to get there. She won 6 races and placed 12 times. She beat Spinning Hill into second to deny that galloper from winning a third Sapphire Stakes.
Her one foal by Encosta De Lago, a 2005 mare named Love And Kisses, turned 10 jumps into $160,000.
The winner from 2003, Fatoon, did not do a lot, but she was handy enough to win four times and place thrice from 18 jumps for $383,000. She had a Group 2 win in the 2002 Champagne Stakes at Moonee Valley.
Served by top stallions, Fatoon supplied 10 named foals. Fat Al by Al Maher won above $700,000 with seven wins.
The 2004 winner Recurring won five times and placed in 10 races to exceed $639,000.
Recurring was described as a Kiwi horse, but other than her dam and a few mares further back on that branch, she was northern hemisphere through and through.
She was close to greatness, nearly winning from Takeover Target, Super Elegant and Fastnet Rock in big races, but none of those three were easy marks and Recurring deserves credit for giving them good runs.
Following her racing career, she supplied six colts and four fillies. Coming Back by High Chapparal won six races. Time After Time by Danehill Dancer won good prize money in Hong Kong.
The 2005 winner Glamour Puss set a standard for Sapphire Stakes winners with her Group 1 wins in The Goodwood and the Salinger Stakes. She had one patch of eleven races between October 2004 and November of 2005 where she failed to place just once.
Her stud career was solid if not spectacular. Nine named foals, three by O’Reilly, two by Pins and Savabeel and one each by Redoute’s Choice and Ocean Park supplied eight money winners, with the top earner taking in $285,000.
The 2006 winner Coolroom Candidate did more as a mum than as a racer, although she was handy enough to win almost half a million dollars, two of her colts each won well above $600,000.
The 2007 winner Fire Song was raced 47 times with prize money that suggest that the Sapphire Stakes was her only major win. Despite all of that effort on the turf, she foaled seven times, all colts – four by Savabeel – none of which left any impression by racing.
Belong to Many was an eight-time winner of $572,000. Two of her five foals won about half a million dollars combined.
The 2009 winner Court was typical of the sorts we have seen winning the Sapphire Stakes.
She won twice at Group 2 and her 16 jumps returned five wins and five placings and $484,000.
She was dam to English by Encosta De Lago that earned more than $3.4million from 26 jumps. Now, that is not all that typical.
Renaissance was the winner in 2010 that could be accused of wasting Lonhro, Octagonal and Zabeel with her racing. She also had lines to Canny Lad Bletchingly, Biscay and Star Kingdom on the side of her dam Seances, but that royal DNA provided for 15 jumps and little else other than five minor wins and three placings for earnings of $234,000.
Philosophy by Street Cry was her best foal that earned $247,000, but three colts by Exceed And Excel neither exceeded nor excelled.
Along with the 2011 Sapphire Stakes, Hurtle Myrtle added the Group 1 Myer Classic and the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes. Her racing earned $739,000 from 19 jumps, four wins and six placings.
She had some success at stud – with four fillies and three colts, the best of them being Holyfield by I Am Invincible that won almost $1 million from his 28 attempts.
The precious and rare Atlantic Jewel won in 2012, quite fittingly that a horse with Jewel in her name would win a race for a precious stone.
Her rarity was through a career of just 11 jumps for 10 wins and one placing.
Her preciousness was the $1.5 million she earned with Group 1 wins in The Thousand Guineas, All Aged Stakes, Memsie Stakes and Caulfield Stakes.
She was served exclusively by Galileo to produce four colts and one filly. Her best was Russian Emperor that won over $36 million in Hong Kong, but she died in 2020 in foal to Justify.
Arinosa was winner in 2013, but she requires very little explanation, as she was a handy racer, winner of $580,000 and supplier of five foals to date by premium sires with little to show for it.
The 2014 winner Cosmic Endeavour was a better type.
Her form was 22 jumps for seven wins and three placings for over $1.4 million. She won the Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara at Eagle Farm in 2014 and the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes at Randwick the following year.
She has foals by More Than Ready, Lonhro and Invincible, but nothing since 2019 and none of her foals had impacted racing.
Avoid Lightning from 2015 was typical of many Sapphire Stakes winners.
She won just under $1 million from 29 jumps for 11 wins and 9 placings. She is deceased after five foals that have underperformed the pedigree.
Two Blue from 2016 matches the pattern of Sapphire Stakes winners.
She did beat a better racer in Secret Agenda, but that is about it.
Secret Agenda persisted, tried and won the Sapphire Stakes in 2017.
She won the 2017 Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes and earned $1.5 million from 23 jumps for seven wins and six placings. She has yet to supply many offspring, but she foaled to I Am Invincible in 2021.
The 2018 winner Quilista never won above the Sapphire Stakes, but she was handy enough to earn $740,000 from 39 jumps for nine wins and nine placings.
A dual winner for 2019 and 2020, White Moss is retired with 25 jumps for eight wins and four placings – good for above $805,000.
She tried the Sapphire Stakes in 2018, third to Quilista, so her persistence was rewarded with the two successive wins.
Fasika by So You Think was the winner in 2021.
Her 15 jumps supplied five wins and five placings and prize money of $762,000.
The 2022 winner Bella Nipotina is making the most of her racing. She has 41 jumps for 6 wins and 20 placings. Listed as active and currently aged six years, she has won over $4.2 million. She has place six times in her last eight races following her Group 1 win in the 2022 Manikato Stakes.
The Sapphire Stakes has delivered quality racers and quality breeding mares for the entirety of its history.
While it lacks the glamour and fiscal allure of most of the other races at the Championships, it has attracted good fillies and mares that contributed big race wins and some great offspring.
Sapphire Stakes Past Winners
|2008||Belong To Many|
|1998||What Can I Say|