The TJ Smith Stakes is a Group 1 sprint run over 1200 metres at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney.
It is run under weight for age conditions at the Easter Saturday meeting that includes three other Group 1 races – the Doncaster Handicap, the Australian Derby and the Sires’ Produce Stakes. There is the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap plus four Group 3 races.
2023 TJ Smith Stakes Information
Date Of The TJ Smith Stakes: 1/4/23
Time Of The TJ Smith Stakes: TBA
Venue For The TJ Smith Stakes: Randwick Racecourse
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How To Bet On The TJ Smith Stakes
My 2023 TJ Smith Stakes Betting Tips
More Details About The TJ Smith Stakes
Anyone who is interested in seeing the best Thoroughbreds in action on one day and in one place should go to Randwick or watch the races on video. There is something for sprint, middle distance and staying horses and all the prizemoney make the meeting one of the first trainers and connections will slot into their racing campaigns.
Prizemoney for the TJ Smith Stakes is $2.5 million, so this is one of the most lucrative races for the sprinters. The prizemoney has grown over the years. The first winner in 1997, the great Mahogany, received $170,000 for his efforts.
An interesting facet of the race is that the winner receives an exemption from balloting for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, a U.S. race in California that offers a $USD 1 million prize pool ($AUD 1.37 million), which is less than what Nature Strip received for winning the TJ Smith Stakes in 2021. First place in the TJ Smith Stakes is worth $1.45 million, but with other incentives added in, Nature Strip actually trotted away with $1,564,500. When Nature Strip won in 2020, he earned just $839,000 and had to beat multiple Group 1 winner Santa Ana Lane and two-time winner of The Everest, Redzel.
The winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint from 2021 received $520,000 for the win, which is $50,000 over what Masked Crusader received for running second in the 2021 T J Smith Stakes.
The Breeders’ Cup races are held in November, so we are not sure we would go to the bother of floating a horse all the way there, but Australian horses have competed in the meeting. It is hard to say why, because if we had a top sprinter we wanted to race in November, we would target the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic. It is worth double what the California race offers, with a far lower risk of bringing Covid back from the disease-riddled U.S.
We included all this because of the ballot exemption provision for the winner of the TJ Smith Stakes. That ballot exemption is important, because voting is the U.S. is some of the most fraudulent voting anywhere, at least according to some U.S. election losers.
At any rate, the following link will take visitors to the reply of the 2021 TJ Smith Stakes that was won by Nature Strip. He sat off the lead for most of the race, and then ran away with the win, annihilating the rest of the field. Only Masked Crusader was in the same frame.
History of the TJ Smith Stakes
The race was first run in 1997. That year and 1998 saw the race being called the Endeavour Stakes. We presume that Endeavour was a great galloper. There are/have been quite a few horses by that name, although none seems distinguished as a great racer and the Australian and New Zealand Endeavours do not seem to have been from the right era.
The race became the TJ Smith Stakes in 1999.
There is no doubt as to the identity of this race namesake. T J Smith won the Sydney premiership an astonishing 33 times.
Unfortunately, in our view, the ATC did not get around to naming the race until the year after T J Smith died.
The race has always been a sprint of 1200 metres, as the metric system was well entrenched by this time.
The TJ Smith Stakes has risen the ranks from Listed race in 1997, to Group 3 from 1998 – 2001, to Group 2 in 2002 - 2004, finally achieving Group 1 status in 2005.
As we noted above, prizemoney has had a steep upward trajectory, so the better types target the race during preparations for their spring campaigns. This will become evident when we examine the racing history and the winners of the race.
Venue for the TJ Smith Stakes
Randwick is the premier track in Sydney and has been in operation since 1833. The track holds 20 Group 1 races every year and the day of the T J Smith Stakes is one of the premier race meetings in Australia at any time and is most certainly one of the prime attractions of autumn racing.
Randwick is not completely limited to gallops. The site is used for concerts. Pope Paul the VI held a mass there in 1970 and Pope John Paul II was there for a mass celebrating the Beatification ceremony of Australia’s Mary MacKillop, the favourite to be the first Australian to achieve sainthood. Sacrilegious we may be, but we think there are more sinners than saints in Australia, outside of St. Kilda, but prayer and faith exist for a reason.
Also, the blokes with whom we work will be saints long before Mary MacKillop is a saint and well before they die.
On the topic of sacrilege, racing at Randwick was stopped for several weeks in 2008 while Randwick was altered to hold 400,000 people for World Youth Day. The observance was held in July, a time when racing is in its winter lull, but the Randwick Trainers Association objected vehemently and only relented when the federal and state government offered $40 million to reimburse the racing industry.
Racing History of the TJ Smith Stakes
As a newer race, the TJ Smith Stakes does not present the historical depth of the legacy races, such as the Doncaster Handicap. This will supply more opportunity to examine horses that were certainly good enough to win the race, but have not ascended to the status of gallopers such as Phar Lap, Makybe Diva, Better Loosen Up and others of that upper echelon.
That said, the race has produced some great winners, including the first winner Mahogany, Black Caviar and Takeover Target, with the best winning after the race became Group 1 in 2005.
With such a short list of TJ Smith Stakes winners, we will have an opportunity to look at all of them, beginning with 1997 winner Mahogany.
Mahogany was by Last Tycoon out of Alshandegha, a U.S. mare. His lines were entirely northern hemisphere, with his grand dam sire the unfortunate Alydar that ran second in each of the American Triple Crown races as a three-year-old.
Mahogany won over $3.6 million from 43 jumps for 19 wins and 12 placings. Mahogany was a stayer until the latter stages of his career, which might explain what he was doing in a Listed sprint race. He had won the 2400-metre AJC Derby in 1994, but he was winning sprint races at the same time, but one of his last races at a longer trip was a second to Octagonal in a photo in the 1995 Cox Plate. He made a good sprinter, winning the Group 1 Lightning Stakes in 1995 and 1997. He was Australian Champion Three Year Old for the 1993/94 season and the Australian Horse of the Year for the same season.
Our next winner was La Baraka in 1998, the first year the race was classified as Group 3 and the last year before it was renamed the T J Smith Stakes.
Her lines resemble a pedigree lover’s dream, with names such as Marscay, Biscay, Todman and Star Kingdom contributing genetic material.
She did quite well in 1997, winning a couple of Group 3s. She won the Group 1 Galaxy in 1998. She made only 16 jumps for six wins and one placing.
Ab Initio was the 1999 winner.
He won 14 races and was placed four times from 41 jumps. A couple of Group 2 victories are his only boast.
Shy Hero came home first in 2000.
The win in the TJ Smith came early in his career and subsequent to that win, Shy Hero did not amount to much.
Our 2001 winner was Century Kid.
He was of New Zealand origins and he managed to win over $1.3 million, but he needed 54 jumps to get there. He won 10 races and placed in 10. His best win was the Group 2 Quantas Cup in Brisbane in 2001, but he concluded his career on the country tracks.
The race was run as a Group 2 for the first time in 2002 and our winner was Phoenix Park. He was dropped into more than a few Group 1 races, but he never came close to winning one. Gai Waterhouse could not get much from Phoenix Park, so he was transferred to Peter Morgan for three races where he ran no better than ninth place. Morgan sent him to Danny Curran, who won three barrier trials and nothing else with Phoenix Park.
Next was Spinning Hill in 2003.
She was a better type, winning 14 and placing in 14 from 40 jumps en route to $2.29 million in earnings. She did run a close second to Favelon in 2001 Doomben 10,000 and she notched four Group 1 wins, the last being the Manikato Stakes of 2003 and she finished her career with an eighth in the 2004 Lightning Stakes.
Our 2004 winner was Dilly Dally.
With the exception of Mahogany in 1997, all the winners through Dilly Dally were horses with two names. That almost sounds like a punting tip, but looking at the entire list of TJ Smith winners, more had two names than had just one name.
Dilly Dally won over $1.4 million in just 20 jumps. Her best result in a Group 1 was a third in the 2004 Manikato Stakes.
The 2005 winner, the first year the race was run as a Group 1, was Shamekha. Right after winning the TJ Smith, she won the Group 1 All Aged Stakes on the same course.
Red Oog, from 2006, had won the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 in 2005, but his second trip there in 2006 saw him far back and his second attempt in the TJ Smith Stakes found him eighth of nine. He always had talented riders, such as Hugh Bowman, Corey Brown and Nash Rawiller, but he never quite got the knack of winning the big races.
Bentley Biscuit was our winner in 2007.
He was okay, winning $1.4 million from 23 jumps for 12 wins and two placings. Like Shamekha, he backed his win in the TJ Smith with a win in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes, but Bentley Biscuit did Shamekha one better by winning the Group 1 BTC Cup at Doomben, beating none other than Takeover Target.
A big name makes its appearance in the 2008 winner Apache Cat.
This was a classy sprinter if ever there was one. He had eight Group 1 wins for over $4.5 million in prizemoney. Like many before him, his route included the Doomben 10,000 and he won that Group 1 race twice. He also won the Group 1 Australia Stakes twice.
Takeover Target was the winner in 2009.
He was third to Apache Cat in the race in 2008. He returned the favour by beating Apache Cat in the Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot and Takeover Target beat Apache Cat into third when he won the TJ in 2009.
We are skipping the 2010 win by Melito because the 2011 winner was Black Caviar. We jump the 2012 winner Master Of Design because the 2013 winner was Black Caviar. The TJ Smith Stakes account for two of her undefeated record of 25 wins from 25 jumps. Black Caviar was the first galloper to win the race twice.
Her record was short-lived though, as one of our favourites, the Grey Flash, aka. Chautauqua, won the race three times from 2015 – 2017.
What can we say? We like grey horses. Chautauqua won almost $9 million. Best of all, when it was time to abandon racing, Chautauqua communicated his desire to retire by refusing to come out of the barriers seven or eight times.
We like him so much that we have supplied the following link for anyone who would like to see the replay of Chautauqua winning in 2017. He was dead last at the 400 and the sprint he unleashed is the stuff of legends. He took the lead in the last 25 metres.
Next, we have the 2018 winner, Trapeze Artist.
He won over $5.5 million from 20 jumps for seven wins and four placings. Trapeze Artist had a line stocked with royalty, such as Snitzel, Redoute’s Choice, Bletchingly, Biscay and Northern Dancer. He began studding in 2019 for the lofty record fee of $90,000, but it might be a while before anything comes of his stud service.
Santa Ana Lane was the winner in 2019.
He won well above $8 million from his 44 jumps. He made a lot of money from finishing half a length behind Yes Yes Yes in The Everest in 2019. His win in the T J Smith saw him beating Osborne Bulls and Sunlight in a runaway five-length victory.
Nature Strip won in 2020 and 2021, so we will be watching to see if he jumps in the next TJ Smith Stakes to see if he can equal Chautauqua’s three wins, but with a victory in The Everest, he need never race again.
2022 TJ Smith Stakes Details, Results and Recap
The 2022 TJ Smith Stakes was won by Nature Strip who won the race under the ride of James McDonald. Nature Strips win in the 2022 TJ Smith was his third win in as many years for the Chris Waller stable having won the TJ Smith Stakes in 2021 and 2020 previously.
Lead Up To The TJ Smith Stakes 2022
The 2022 TJ Smith Stakes was centrally focused on the Joe Pride trained Eduardo and Chris Waller trained Nature Strip entering the field together once again to see who was the best sprinter in Australia.
Eduardo and Nature Strip had already clashed twice through the Autumn with Nature Strip beating home Eduardo in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes where both finished behind Home Affairs. They then met the following month where Eduardo beat Nature Strip in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes.
Of course in the Challenge Stakes we saw a huge run from rising star Shelby SixtySix who finished second that day after a late surge and nearly toppling both the big names. He would then go on to win the Group One The Galaxy before his owners would pay the late entry fee to have one last Autumn run in the TJ Smith Stakes.
There had also been interest in 5yo Masked Crusader who was ridden by recently relocated jockey Willie Pike. The pairing would see if Pike could get Masked Crusader closer to the speed and attempt to stop Nature Strip winning his third TJ Smith Stakes.
In betting the punters seemed to believe that Nature Strip was going to make it three TJ Smith Stakes from three however with the bookies crunching the Everest winner into $2.30 at the jump with Eduardo second choice elect at $4.60.
The Final Result Of The 2022 TJ Smith Stakes
The result and final placings of the 2022 TJ Smith Stakes which were run at Royal Randwick over a distance of 1200m on Saturday 2nd April 2022 are as follows:
1st - 1.Nature Strip (11) - 58.5kg - $2.30
2nd - 2.Eduardo (3) - 58.5kg - $4.60
3rd - 11.Paulele (6) - 56.5kg - $12.00
A Recap Of The 2022 TJ Smith Stakes
The start of the 2022 TJ Smith Stakes were delayed by a short period of time after Belluci Babe lost a shoe on the way to the stalls meaning the farrier was required to replate the Bjorn Baker runner behind the barriers before the field could jump.
Once Belluci Babe was seen to by the farrier the 11 strong field loaded into the barriers quickly before pinging the gates in the $2.5m sprint contest.
In typical fashion it would be Eduardo and Nature Strip from the wide barrier that would take up the lead and go head to head early doors. Shelby SixtySix also jumped well in the race but elected to settle back in the field rather than compete with the multiple Group One winners for a share of the lead.
On the heavy 8 track Nature Strip decided to push on from Eduardo and took up a solo role to lead the TJ Smith Stakes field. Behind these two Overpass, Paulele and Roche N Horse controlled the rest of the field and elected to track the two front runners without challenging for the lead.
As the field rounded the turn and entered the final 350m the chasing pack all looked to be off the bridle whilst Nature Strip and Eduardo appeared to have plenty in the tank. Over the course of the final few 100m though Nature Strip would prove too strong and win the TJ Smith Stakes by an official margin of 3.36 lengths.
Paulele would lift late to finish a further length off Eduardo and a fast finishing Belluci Babe would claim fourth but nothing was catching Nature Strip who replicated the feats of the Grey Flash Chautauqua when winning a 3rd consecutive TJ Smith Stakes.
It is interesting to watch the story arc of a newer race like the TJ Smith Stakes. Ignoring Mahogany in 1997, the race was won by good types, but the quality of the fields started to increase when the race was made Group 1 in 2005. The real jump in quality, though, began with Apache Cat in 2008, was solidified in 2011 and 2013 by Black Caviar and was completed with Chautauqua, Trapeze Artist, Santa Ana Lane and Nature Strip.
TJ Smith Stakes Winners
|2019||Santa Ana Lane|
|2012||Master Of Design|