The Group 2 Autumn Stakes is for three-year-olds of either gender and is run at set weights plus penalty conditions at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne.
It is typically run in February as a prelude to the major races of the autumn racing carnivals.
The distance is 1400 metres and the available prize money is $200,000.
History of the Autumn Stakes
The Autumn Stakes had humble beginnings in 1966, when it was run at Sandown Racecourse as an unlisted race. It remained of the same lowly status until 1978, when it was granted Listed status.
Most racing historical sources make no mention of which horse won the Autumn Stakes when it was run from 1966 through 1978, but looking at the winners since 1979, it would appear that the risk of missing a champion horse winning the race prior to 1979 is minimal, as an unlisted race for three-year-olds would not have held much appeal for trainers and connections that felt they had a potential up-and-coming three-year-old in their barns.
We went the extra distance to learn for our readers that the first time the Autumn Stakes was run as a Principal race it was won by Anvil.
The Autumn Stakes spent just 1979 in the Listed category of the rating system that debuted that year. It was lifted to Group 3 beginning with the 1980 race and it remained Group 3 through 2007.
It jumped to Group 2 in 2008 and occupies that relatively narrow niche of Australian Group 2 races, where there are nearly as many Group 1 races and far more Group 3 races than Group 2.
The name Autumn Stakes seems to have come into use in 1979. In the years since, the race has carried different names for sponsorship reasons. Some of those sponsors were Tattersalls, the Japan Racing Association, Schweppes, Perri Cutten and D’Urban.
From 2012, the race is known simply as the Autumn Stakes, but Hyland Rae Colors was associated with the 2020 event and it is a safe punt that the organisers would welcome a name and an infusion of monetary support in exchange for a name banner.
The Pro Group Racing Autumn Stakes has a nice ring about it, but the big bosses are waiting for something like the Caulfield Cup or the Cox Plate to come calling.
Currently, the Group 2 Autumn Stakes is run on a Saturday meeting that includes the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes, the Group 2 Blue Diamond Preludes (fillies), and the Group 3s Geoffrey Belmaine Stakes, Carlyon Cup the Blue Diamond Prelude for colts and the Kevin Hayes Stakes.
Most of the attention for the meeting is focused on the Group 1 C F Orr Stakes, rightfully so, and the two Blue Diamond Preludes for the juveniles.
Early on, the race was 1200 metres. It achieved the current 1400-metre trip in 1987.
Race Venue for the Group 2 Autumn Stakes
The race has been run at Caulfield Racecourse from 1997 forward. Some of the local racing fans refer to the track as The Heath. Caulfield was heavily renovated in 1995 to widen it to 30 metres and add some banking to the track. It was again improved in 2005 with new turf laid after the running of the 2005 Caulfield Cup.
Racing History of the Autumn Stakes
Microphone won the Autumn Stakes in 2020. He is one of the top horses to have won the race. In his case, it was to be his last win, as the son of Exceed And Excel, his connections probably considered him more valuable as a source of DNA than as a source of prize money, even though Microphone earned nearly $2 million from his 11 starts.
He won three of his first five jumps and ran a respectable second in the Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill in 2019. His best win without doubt was the 2019 Group 1 Sires Produce Stakes at Randwick.
Hawkshot won the race in 2019, his only significant win. He ran second next up in the Australian Guineas at Flemington, but he was seriously outclassed by Mystic Journey. Mystic Journey beat Hawkshot again in the 2019 All-Star Mile and Microphone was exported after.
Here is his run in the 2019 Autumn Stakes.
Other good sorts to win the race were Flying Gem (1973), Silver Shaft (1976) Canny Lad (1991), Royal Rubiton (1994), Eureka Jewel (1996), Dignity Dancer (1999), Dash For Cash (2002) and Special Harmony (2004).
By far the most significant winner was the champion sprinter Apache Cat in 2008. Looking at the rest of the list of Autumn Stakes winners and considering Apache Cat’s results, it almost seems as though he was in the race by mistake.
Apache Cat won multiple times at Group 1 level, including two Doomben 10,000s. He earned well above $4.5 million and had one five-race winning streak in 2006 where he won the Group 1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington, followed by the Group 1 Australia Stakes, the Group 1 T J Smith at Randwick, the Group 1 BTC Cup and Group 1 Doomben 10,000 in Brisbane.
Apache Cat was notable for running and winning in Queensland, Victoria, New south Wales and nearly winning in Western Australia where he gave none less than Takeover Target a run for the money at Ascot in the Winterbottom Stakes.
Takeover Target won 19 times from 43 starts and doubtless could have won more had he not fractured a leg racing at Sha Tin in Hong Kong.
The Group 2 Autumn Stakes is a test for sprinters that want to move up in trip above 1,000 and 1,200 metres.
With its age restriction and running conditions, classier gallopers often take the race, although outside of Apache Cat and possibly Microphone, the race has served more as warm up for the Group 1 Australian Guineas, but some horses that ran but did not win the Autumn Stakes went on to prove to be impressive.
|Year||Autumn Stakes Winners|
|2012||Pied A Terre|
|2009||Fravashi (AUS) 2005|
|2002||Dash For Cash|
|1998||Blaze The Turf|
|1996||Nick On The Run|
|1982||Pure Of Heart|
|1981||Deck The Halls|