One of the few Group grade races not run at an Australian metro track is the Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic, a 1600-metre set weights plus penalties conditions race for three-year-old fillies.
The 2023 edition of the race was won by Pavitra. She is the offspring of the U.S. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah out of a U.S. dam Gypsy Robin. The rest of her lines, at least the parts that are not USA, are northern hemisphere by way of Canada, Ireland and Great Britain, with a smattering of Argentina in the mix for good measure.
Kembla Grange Classic Race Details
Racecourse: Kembla Grange
Race Distance: 1600m
Prize Money: $200,000
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When Is The Kembla Grange Classic: 8/3/24
What Time Is The Kembla Grange Classic: TBA
Where Is The Kembla Grange Classic: Kembla Grange Racecourse
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More Details About The Kembla Grange Classic
She is actually pretty good for a Yankee nag, good enough that she books top riders such as William Pike, Brenton Avdulla, Kerrin McEvoy and Jamie Kah.
She has made 11 jumps as of late March 2023. Her form line of three wins and four placings does not include anything better graded that the Kembla Grange Classic. Her first win was a set weight maiden at Newcastle, followed by a Class 1 win at Kembla Grange Racecourse.
She had no trouble with any of the other 11 gallopers in the race alongside of her, taking the post with a four-length margin. Her next jump was the Group 1 Vinery Stud, where she ran second. She had another brush with Group 1 glory earlier when she ran second a length to She’s Extreme in the 2500-metre Group 1 Kennedy Oaks, so it seems as though she might be prepping to someday make a raid on the Melbourne Cup.
She earned the un-round figure of $111,400 of the $200,000 prize pool for the race.
The race manages to attract some of the better three-year-old fillies. In many instances, the better horses in the race are targeted at the Group 1 Storm Queen Classic and possibly the Group 1 Australian Oaks at Randwick. Winners of the Kembla Grange Classic have managed to win Group 1 races at metro tracks in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
History of the Kembla Grange Classic
A newer race, the Kembla Grange Classic was first run in 2003.
It was known as the Keith F. Nolan Classic through 2015.
He was the founding chairman of the Illawara Turf Club who played a major role in preserving Kembla Grange Racecourse from the wrecking ball. He is credited with promoting the course to the degree that it was and is considered one of the better provincial tracks in all of New South Wales.
The Illawara Turf Club named a race after him, as well as a grandstand.
Nolan lived to see the race named in his honour jump two or three times and the name held until 2016, when the current name was put into place.
The race was initially graded as a Listed event. It was elevated to Group 3 grade in 2010.
It was shifted to Rosehill Gardens Racecourse for the 2011 race because of track conditions deemed unsafe for racing. It was stretched to 1800 metres for that edition, but has otherwise always been 1600 metres.
The race was held at Goulburn Racecourse in 2022.
Venue of the Kembla Grange Classic
Kembla Grange Racecourse is located about 100 kilometres south of Sydney.
Historical records suggest that racing was going on at the site as far back as 1834.
It has been run by various managers, with the Illawara Turf Club taking over in 1976. The first meeting under the ITC was a week ahead of Christmas in 1976. They present races on about 30 days per year, mostly on Saturdays.
The course is something of a doppelganger that is designed to imitate Royal Randwick. It has two long straights connected by two continuous curves.
In 1984, the track received full TAB service after spending millions of dollars on improvements, such as stables, a grandstand and facilities for corporate meetings and other receptions.
The Kembla Grange Classic is far and away the best race staged at the track.
For 1600-metre races, the barriers are placed at a short chute on the northeast side of the course, leading on to the long back straight. They negotiate the big turn on the south end of the course, and then head for home to the finish line in front of the stands located on the west side of the track.
Racing History of the Kembla Grange Classic
It would be natural to have low expectations of the race, as it is held at a provincial track, but we have the benefit of good historical data since the race has its beginnings in the early days of the 21st century.
The race has been staged 21 times as of 2023 and the short list of winners has some notable names. We have the chance to look at every winner to look for better racing types, as well as which winners had success at stud.
The first winner was Ain't Seen Nothin' in 2003. Does that name supply a clue? Let us find out.
The answer is a resounding yes. Ain't Seen Nothin' was the daughter of Nothin Leica Dane, the beater of THE Octagonal in the 1995 Group 1 Victoria Derby and sire to a subsequent winner of the Kembla Grange Classic and multi-million dollar stakes winner Hot Danish.
Ain't Seen Nothin' was winner of eight with seven placings from 29 jumps. She earned above $600,000 for her racing. She was in the field for Makybe Diva’s first Melbourne Cup win in 2003.
After racing, she was served by good stallions. Her best was a 2009 colt named Stepitup by Hussonet that won in Singapore to the equivalent by today’s exchange rates of more than $4 million.
The 2004 winner was La Nikita.
The Kembla Grange Classic was her best win by far and she was not very good as a breeder.
The 2005 winner, Ponte Piccolo made just eight jumps for three wins and three placings for a bit over $244,750. The Kembla Grange was her best win. Two jumps at Group 1 Grade did not supply a placing.
She dropped five colts and three fillies, including Able Friend by Shamardal that won 13 races in Hong Kong for a gazillion dollars, which exchanges to more than $11 million in Oz bucks.
Pasikatera was the 2006 winner that had lines to Vain and Willes through her dam Vain Deb, along with some good U.S. lines from her sire Thunder Gulch, such as Mr. Prospector, Raise A Native and Native Dancer.
She made 31 jumps for seven wins and eight placings and stakes winnings of over $530,000. She had a Group 3 win in the 2007 AJC Breeders’ Classic.
She supplied three named foals, one each to Northern Meteor, Encosta De Lago and a 2009 colt by Exceed And Excel named Planet Voyage that won five races and earned above $280,000.
The notable Hot Danish won in 2007.
Her form line of 31 jumps for 16 wins and 9 placings earned her$2.3 million. Following the win in the Kembla Grange, she won the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes at Randwick. She was second to Eskimo Queen in the 2008 Group 1 Coolmore Classic. She won twice more at Group 2 before running second in the Group 1 Queen of the Turf Stakes at Rosehill in 2009.
After some good runs in top races, she broke through the ranks of Group 1 winners to beat Melito in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes and a few races later, she won the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 easily from Whobegotyou, with Melito third.
Hot Danish ran second to Black Caviar in the Group 2 Schweppes in 2010, but every racer than lined up against Black Caviar was number two or lower.
A leg infection necessitated her being put down in 2011, so she left no progeny.
We considered skipping the 2008 winner, Bernicia, but she was a good broodmare that was served four time by Lonhro and Exceed And Excel. Four of her 10 foals won some money, with the 2012 colt Old North by Lonhro winning four races and a little above $300,000 in stakes.
The 2009 winner, Allez Wonder, was another we considered skipping until we discovered that this modest racer by Redoute’s Choice, winner of just three races, caught lightning in a bottle to win the Group 1 Toorak Handicap in 2009. She attempted to defend that win the following year but she was well back of winner More Joyous.
Allez Wonder supplied for colts and five fillies, served by the likes of All Too Hard, Dundeel and More Than Ready, although none of her offspring was especially successful.
We are deliberately overlooking 2010 winner Slapstick.
Brazilian Pulse was the winner in 2011.
She was the winner of above $1.1 million from just 13 jumps for five wins and four placings.
After winning some minor races, this New Zealand galloper won the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes immediately after placing third in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield. Her next jump saw her winning the Group 1 Crown Oaks at Flemington, backed by a second in the Group 2 Kewney Stakes in the jump immediately preceding her win in the Kembla Grange the year it jumped at Rosehill and had the 1800-metre trip.
She was served with limited success by good stallions – four by Redoute’s Choice, one by Not A Single Doubt, with two by Maurice, two colts and five fillies in total.
Appearance was the winner in 2012.
She made 19 appearances for nine wins and three placings, earning above $1.7 million.
The Kembla Grange was her first major win, followed by the Group 1 Myer Classic in 2012. The year of 2012 saw her winning Group 1 races in the Coolmore Classic and the Queen of the Turf Stakes, both at Rosehill.
Appearance concluded with three straight wins in 2014 – all at Randwick.
Those wins were the Group 2 Expressway Stakes, the Group 2 Apollo Stakes and the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes. Two of her better wins came at the expense of the good racer Red Tracer.
When she was taken from the track in 2014 after three consecutive wins, we assumed she was sent to the sheds, but we did not locate a progeny record for her. She is listed as retired, so at least she did not suffer the fate of Hot Danish.
Given the quality of winners we have seen to this point in the history of the Kembla Grange Classic, we do not feel bad about neglecting the 2013 winner Cameo.
We cannot ignore the 2014 winner, Zanbagh, because even though she needed 47 jumps to accumulate seven wins and seven placings, she earned above $1.2 million.
She won the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes in 2016 and 2017, with the second win coming ahead of Daysee Doom with Dixie Blossoms third. Zanba
gh does not seem to have had much success as a breeder, with just one named foal by Pierro named Whisker To Whisker that won just one maiden to date and finished seventh when she tried the Kembla Grange Classic in 2023.
We will dismiss the 2015 winner Slightly Sweet. She won over $500,000, but she needed 30 jumps to do it and she left no progeny record.
A more than handy type named Single Gaze was the winner in 2016.
She made 35 jumps for 5 wins and 12 placings and earned in excess of $2.3 million.
A daughter of Not A Single Doubt, she was the winner of the Group 1 Storm Queen Stakes that same year, with seconds in the 2017 Caulfield Cup to Boom Time and seconds in the 2018 Group 1 C. F. Orr Stakes, beaten a nose by Hartnell and a head to Gailo Chop in the 2018 Group 1 Ranvet Stakes.
She won the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes in her next jump following the Kembla Grange.
The 2017 winner was Dawn Wall and we will leave it at that.
The New Zealand galloper Luvaluva was winner in 2018.
She won the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes, with Group 3 wins in the Adrian Knox Stakes and the Summer Cup.
Pohutukawa won in 2019, but she did not win much else, but she ran second in the Group 1 Tatt’s Tiara at Eagle Farm and had other placings in better races. She was by Medaglia D’Oro from Lumina.
Another Medaglia D’Oro progeny named Asiago won in 2020.
She had one other Group 3 win, but she was otherwise unremarkable.
The 2021 winner was Miravalle, notable mostly for being the daughter of Redoute’s Choice. She made only 10 jumps for two wins. She beat the heavy favourite Elizabeel to win the Kembla Grange Classic.
Another filly by the U.S. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah named Pretty Amazing was the winner in 2022. She is still racing for Chris Waller who keeps Pretty Amazing in form with frequent barrier trials.
We admit that we did not expect to see such quality on the winners’ list for the Kembla Grange Classic.
We can think of no other race where the impact of shuttle stallions is so prominent.
For a Group 3 race on a provincial track, the Kembla Grange Classic has certainly fielded strong runners through the years.
Kembla Grange Classic Past Winners
|2003||Ain't Seen Nothin'|