The Widden Stakes is a Group 3 race for two-year-old fillies that is run in February at Rosehill Racecourse in Sydney.
It is a sprint race of 1100 metres under set weight plus penalty conditions.
Widden Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1100m
Prize Money: $200,000
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When Is The Widden Stakes: 27/1/24
What Time Is The Angst Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Widden Stakes: Rosehill Racecourse
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More Details About The Widden Stakes
Prizemoney for the race is a modest $200,000.
The race is often used as preparation for the two-year-old and open races that come along later during the autumn carnivals. Fillies that do well in the Widden Stakes might turn out for the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes, although the early winners of the Widden Stakes did not have the Golden Slipper Stakes until 1957, while the Widden Stakes jumped for the first time in 1943.
The race name is an honorarium to Widden Stud, where some of the better stallions have stood after proving their worth on the turf.
The only two fillies to win the Widden Stakes / Golden Slipper Stakes double have been Overeach in 2013 and Mossfun in 2014.
The race was initially a 1000-metre event. That trip persisted from inception in 1943 through 1972. Metrication turned the race into 1000 metres until it was stretched to 1100 metres for the jumps from 2005 through 2007. It was back to 1000 metres for 2008 and has since been 1100 metres.
The race grade was Principal to begin with, before being classified as Listed grade from 1979 through 2013. It became Group 3 grade in 2014.
The Widden Stakes has spent most of its history jumping at Randwick. The race moved to Rosehill Gardens in 2005, but was back to Randwick by 2008. It shifted to Warwick Farm for 2012, went back to Rosehill from 2013 through 2019 before returning to Randwick for one last huzzah in 2020.
It has been at Rosehill for the last two jumps, but it is anyone’s guess where it will go next, if anywhere.
In the years of 1969 and 1976, there were more two-year-old fillies than could be accommodated in the barriers, so the race was run in divisions. The Widden Stakes was not held in 1945 and 2003, but it was run in 2007, the year Equine Influenza impacted many races.
Race Venue for the Widden Stakes
Since the race is currently at Rosehill Gardens, we will consider that as the race venue for our purposes.
Rosehill is located in the western suburbs of Sydney and is operated by the Australian Turf Club.
The facility claims 1885 for a start date and each year stages nine Group 1, 13 Group 2 and 14 Group 3 races. If pressed, we would say that the Golden Slipper Stakes in April and the Coolmore Classic in March are the marquee races, but there are other elite races as well.
Rosehill offers a tri-oval layout with two sweeping turns at the north extreme and one tight turn on the south extreme that leads into the 408-metre home straight.
For an 1100-metre sprint such as the Widden Stakes, the horses jump from a chute that is inside the course proper. They navigate the tight turn at the apex of the tri-oval and run the home straight to finish in front of the finish line stands.
Racing History of the Widden Stakes
We enjoy two-year-old races, be they restricted by gender or open to all of the specified age. Punters may not like them so well, as there is seldom enough form to make an informed decision on that criterion.
Every time we see a juvenile race, we wonder if we are looking at the next great champion, even though history tells us Winx won two races as a two-year-old, a maiden at Warwick Farm and an unrated handicap at Rosehill.
Sydney’s Super Mare came to mind as we were looking at the list of winners from the Widden Stakes and found ourselves wondering if the list was made up, because there were only a few names that seemed vaguely familiar.
We will be looking at the winners to seek any who went on to bigger races and bigger accomplishments, but our real hope is to discover some fillies that went on to supply big winners from their progeny.
One name we did recognise was that of the 1989 winner Triscay and we will examine her further when we get through the earlier years.
The winner of the first race in 1943 was Birthright.
The lack of a detailed racing record for Birthright leads us to believe that the Widden Stakes may have been her best win, but in those days, a win in a Principal race was the best that could be achieved. It was left to the industry to decide which Principal race was the more Principal, with prestige and prizemoney being two of the main factors. We found no progeny record for Birthright either, so she makes it into this article simply for being the winner of the race the first time it jumped.
If you think Birthright was obscure, the given name of the 1944 winner, Genista, turned up plenty of horses by that name, but none born in 1942 or any nearby year.
The race was not held in 1945 and we are left to wonder why. World War II and the threat of a Japanese invasion was effectively over by 1945, yet they managed to hold the race in 1943, when Yamamoto’s carriers could have been just beyond the horizon for all anyone knew.
A filly named Oasis won the Widden Stakes in 1947.
There were a lot by this name, but ours was by none other than Ajax, with Heroic as the grandsire. She did little as a racer and the only reason we know about her is that our lists of winners and past results for races are often the first source quoted by historians dedicated to Australian Thoroughbred racing. She supplied three foals but none that left any solid memories.
While Oasis did little, the 1948 winner, Pantomime, also by Ajax, actually came out of Widden Stud. We do not know much about her racing, but she was the dam to French Fable, a Group 1 winner courtesy of the 1956 Flight Stakes, although the Flight Stakes was still considered a Principal race prior until 1979 and Group 2 until 1985.
So far, we are finding little to speak of from the list of Widden Stakes winners, other than a bunch of recycled names, such as Oasis and Pantomime.
Needless to say, we were not thrilled at the name of the 1949 winner, Magic Carpet.
We found 26 by that name, mostly mares with a few geldings and a few foreign entires. We found four Magic Carpets, just in Australia and New Zealand.
Our Widden Stakes winner was northern hemisphere bred, with the exception of her dam, Australia’s Virgin Wing. Magic Carpet did not reveal a progeny record. She may have won other races, but obviously nothing significant.
At this rate, we will never be done with the winners of the race and we have found nothing other than minutiae that only the nerdiest of race fans would appreciate.
In that light, we will continue to look at the list of winners, but unless we found something that did something, we will not include them here.
There could be discrepancies in the records for that era, too.
For example, one source we consulted for the 1952 winner, Reflected Glory, says that she was unraced, which seems unlikely, as two sources credit her with winning the Widden Stakes.
There was nothing interesting whatsoever about the 1954 winner, Interesting. She shared the name with a handful of others, which we have learned from the first part of this article is another name in a long list of unoriginal names.
Royal Maureen from 1955 was the first we found that took us directly to her lineage. We would have expected more by that name. We had a cousin Maureen who did think she was royalty, but we were able to point out to her that she was really Canadian.
The impressive sire Wilkes of France was responsible for the 1960 winner, No Match. No points for No Match for having a famous daddy, no race record and no progeny that we could locate.
April Wonder from 1961 at least had another verifiable win, the Keith Mackay Handicap, a race subsequently known as the Percy Sykes Stakes and the Royal Randwick Stakes. She supplied Always There, a Group 1 winner of the Victoria Derby in 1968.
We finally found a noteworthy racer in the 1963 winner, All Gold.
She was by Star Kingdom out of New Zealand’s Regal Gold. She had three wins to her credit, but she was exported to the U.S., and everyone knows that the Aussies do not export a good racer of strong lines for no reason.
All Gold was great as a breeder, supplying 12 foals, all of which can lay claim to having Star Kingdom for their grandpa. An interesting facet of All Gold’s stud career is that all 12 won money. The best in terms of stakes was Royal Dan by Blood Royal. Royal Dan raced in the U.S. and made 59 jumps in order to win about $170,000.
The cream of the crop, in our view, though, was High Commander by Bold Commander. Foaled in 1969, High Commander made 153 jumps in the U.S. for 19 wins and 45 placings. What might be even more amazing than a U.S. horse making that many starts is that for all those races and all those wins, High Commander earned under $50,000, so he might have been racing on a carousel.
We are departing from our usual format now. We will jump ahead to the decade of the 90s and hope that better records reveal a two-year-old winner of the Widden Stakes that did something other than win the Widden Stakes and have a few foals - horse racing tips.
The 1992 winner was Lilting. The Widden Stakes was her first jump and only win. She dropped Grand Destiny, a 2003 colt by Redoute’s Choice that won almost $350,000.
The 1995 winner, Unison, actually won races other than the Widden Stud. She won about $268,000 from 13 jumps for six wins and three placings. None of her wins was more prestigious than the Widden.
Unison was an adequate broodmare once she retired. She supplied nine foals, including 2003’s Lifeline Pegasus that made some solid bank by winning a race in Hong Kong.
We are so desperate to find something from the winners list for the Widden Stakes that we resort to the 1998 winner, Countess Christie.
She won at Group 2 level and Group 3. When she won the Widden, it was a Listed Grade race. She had a great lineage. Her sire was Marscay and the line on that side went to Biscay and Star Kingdom. Her stud career was possibly well below expectations. Served by the likes of Danehill, Flying Spur and Redoute’s Choice, there was nothing out of Countess Christie that made much impact.
Dutifully moving through the list, we found a Group 1 winner in 2004’s Econsul.
Her Group 1 win was the Caulfield Guineas in 2004.
We suspect this is a record-keeping error, though, because the only Econsul we could find was a 2001 colt and not even Australia is so progressive as to allow a colt in a fillies’ race.
Too bad. This was the first we had found going all the way back that did anything much other than win the Widden Stakes. He was a good sire, too, with more little baby horses than we cared to count, some of which were good racers.
The given 2006 winner was again a colt, this one named Churchill Downs. There is so much askew here. One is the gender; the other is the name that is the most famous racetrack in the U.S. and the site of the Kentucky Derby. We very much doubt that the Yanks are naming any foals Moonee Valley or Warwick Farm.
One of the best we have found is 2011’s Satin Shoes.
She won over $800,000, with a win at Group 2 grade in the 2011 Silver Slipper Stakes. She was great racing in the Coolmore Stud Stakes because she placed third in the VRC version in 2011 and third in the ATC version in 2012.
Foals by Pierro and Medaglia D’ Oro have done fairly well, both winning above $100,000.
We found a true galloper in the 2012 winner, Driefontein.
She won over $2.3 million from 37 jumps for eight wins and nine placings. She was by Fastnet Rock out of Follow Gold.
She had a Group 1 win in the 2014 Robert Sangster Stakes at Morphettville and we’ll have none of that “A Group 1 at Morphettville is like a Listed race in NSW” nonsense.
Not even if true.
The 2013 winner was Overreach.
A 2010 filly by Exceed And Excel from Bahia, Overreach did exactly that by winning over $2.3 million from just six jumps for three wins and three placings.
After winning the Widden, she easily beat Villa Verde by over four lengths following a five-length win in the Widden. She then took out the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes, winning comfortably.
Now retired from racing, her best offspring has been Lofty Strike by Snitzel that has won above $360,000.
Mossfun from 2014 was the other filly to win the Golden Slipper Stakes.
Her other good win was the 2014 Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes.
The 2016 winner of the Widden Stakes was Honesty Prevails.
She was by Redoute’s Choice out of Flavoured. She had just the one win, but her 2018 colt Profondo by Deep Impact has earned $767,000 so far.
The 2018 winner was Fiesta by I Am Invincible.
She made 33 jumps for 5 wins and 10 placings to earn above $1.5 million. Her big win was the ING Sprint at Warwick Farm in February of 2019.
Away Game was the 2020 winner.
Now five years of age, she has won almost $4 million as she is spelling after 26 jumps for 5 wins and 11 placings.
The bulk of her earnings came from winning the 2020 Magic Millions 2YO Classic. She has placed well in other big races and is still active.
The 2021 winner was Mallory.
The Widden Stakes was her only win. She is now retired and will hopefully pass along some of the speed of her sire, Not A Single Doubt.
A replay of Mallory winning the 2021 Widden Stakes can be viewed at the following link.
The Widden Stakes has given rise to a few good racers and a few good breeders, but this race has often been won by anonymous handy types.
Widden Stakes Past Winners
|2023||Learning To Fly|
|2022||Queen Of The Ball|
|1990||Bundle Of Thanks|
|1980||Flight Of Life|
|1953||Queen Of All|