The Caulfield Sprint is a Group 2 race run at Caulfield Racecourse during the Melbourne spring racing carnival. It is presented by the Melbourne Racing Club.
It is run under open handicap conditions without gender or age restrictions, other than horses need to be at least three years of age.
History of the Caulfield Sprint
The Caulfield Sprint is run on the same day as the Caulfield Cup, on the third day of the MRC spring carnival. Prizemoney has grown to the current level of $300,000.
It is a newer race that was first run in 1983.
In the time the race has been run, it has changed names almost as frequently as a jockey changes silks.
It was the Racing Museum Sprint for the first two years. It was the Brylcreem Sprint Championship for sponsorship reasons in 1985, when a little dab would do ‘ya.
It was the National Sprint Championship in 1987.
The current name first showed up in 1987 and persisted for five races. It was named the Jupiter’s Casino Sprint in 1992 and the Conrad Jupiter’s Sprint in 1993, at which time it went back to Caulfield Sprint.
The race became the Schillaci Stakes in 1995 and remained so through 1999. Schillaci won the race in 1994 when it was a Group 3 race. He deserves a race named after him, which will be seen later.
It might have remained the Schillaci Stakes but for the fact that the Victorian Amateur Turf Club usurped the name in 2000 to use on a race that used to be known as the Chirnside Stakes.
So, in 2000, the race was the Mercedes-Benz Sprint for that year and 2001. It was run in 2002 as the National Telecoms Group Sprint, and then for the next three races through 2005, the Dodo Internet Sprint.
Thai Airways International Sprint served from 2006 – 2009.
It was back to the Caulfield Sprint beginning in 2010 and has remained so since.
The trip was originally 1100 metres from the first race in 1983 through 2014. Since 2015, it has been 1000 metres.
As for the grade, the Caulfield Sprint began as a Listed race. It was run as a Group 3 from 1993 – 1998 and was lifted to Group 2 in 1999.
Race Venue of the Caulfield Sprint
Caulfield Racecourse has a distinct triangular oval shape. For a race such as the Caulfield Sprint, the starting barriers are set on the last section of Caulfield’s starting chute, run in a straight line for 650 metres, and then the horses make one turn before heading down the stretch.
Caulfield is located just eight kilometres from the Melbourne CBD and has been holding races since 1859.
Racing History of the Caulfield Sprint
As a major spring carnival sprint race, the Caulfield Sprint attracts better horses.
The first edition of the race in 1983 went to Bow Mistress. She did some racing in Tasmania and proved worthy of some tries on the mainland. She won the Memsie Stakes when it was graded as a Group 2 race. She won or placed high in other top-level races. Records from that era are a bit sketchy, but what is known is that she won 12 races.
River Rough won in 1984. He won the Group 1 Pure-Pak Stakes (now the VRC Sprint Classic), two times. He also won the Lightning Stakes two years when it was a Group 2 race and the William Reid Stakes when it was still Group 2 level.
Campaign King was the 1985 winner. This chestnut horse is the sort we appreciate, as he made 55 starts – a true campaigner – and he won 25 times with five placings, taking in almost $2 million in stakes at a time when winning $1 million was considered a benchmark of greatness. His big wins were the Futurity Stakes, the William Reid Stakes, the All-Aged Stakes, the George Main Stakes, two George Ryder Stakes (he would have won the Melbourne Cup if they had named it the George Melbourne Cup), and a Doomben 10,000.
A horse named Bullion Broker won in 1986. A rather obscure horse, Bullion Broker must have been a disappointment to his connections, considering that he had most impressive lines, lines that included the likes of Northern Dancer, Helios, Nearctic, Nearco, Hyperion and Gainsborough. Maybe all the French blood he carried slowed him down, Oui?
Rendoo, the 1988 winner of the Caulfield Sprint, must have been having a good day, although he did win a couple of Group 3s. He was ordinary enough that he was sent to the USA in 1989. The Yanks sent him back in 1991 after they discovered that Rendoo, as a gelding, had no value as a breeder.
We jump ahead to 1991 to discover Euclase. He was a brother of Rubiton, both by the sire Century. The best win Euclase can claim is the Group 1 Goodwood Sprint in South Australia. But he won 10 races and placed three times from 20 starts, so apparently his connections picked the right races for him to run.
1994 brings us to arguable the greatest sprinter to win the Caulfield Sprint.
Schillaci was big by Thoroughbred standards and he was a grey, so we give him instant credibility for the resemblance with one of our all-time favourites, Chautauqua.
Schillaci was a bargain by any measure. His purchase price was a paltry $70,000, as his lines were not exceptional, other than Star Kingdom three generations back and Bold Ruler four back.
He earned over $2.3 million dollars from 36 starts, with 16 wins and 10 placings. That is approximately a 45 percent winning strike rate, with an over win/place strike rate of over 72 percent. He won the Group 1 Lightning Stakes twice before he lined up in the Caulfield Sprint. He won the Group 1 Futurity Stakes twice 1992 and 1993. He took out the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap in 1992.
The interesting aspect to Schillaci’s record is that he was unraced at two and did not win as a five-year-old. His big impact was as a four-year-old. He won three races as a six-year-old and concluded his brilliant, if inconsistent career, with the Group 1 Futurity Stakes and a second in the Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm in June of 1995.
A mare named Petite Amour won in 1995, the year the race was named the Schillaci Stakes. It was a Group 3 race at that time. He won 10 races, but never anything truly big. Her best win was the Winterbottom Stakes in 1994. She spent her early racing days in Western Australia, first racing at Caulfield in 1995 and running ninth of 10 in a mares’ handicap race. The Caulfield Sprint was her only win in the east and she ran a dismal 18th of 21 when someone thought it would be a good idea to throw her into the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.
Ruffles was a horse that only die-hard racing fans, along with her connections, will recall. She made 25 starts for eight wins and seven placings, so while her resume is not equivalent to those of the elites, she was a decent mare. The bulk of her wins came early in her career in minor races, but after winning the Caulfield Sprint in October of 1996, she produced a minor boilover by winning the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap from $17, beating eight horses priced shorter than her starting price.
The next two years, 1997 and 1998, of the Caulfield Sprint gave us one winner.
That was Toledo and as of 2020, he is the only multiple winner of the race. It is tempting on the one hand, to say that Toledo was not great, because he had to win the same Group 2 race twice, but on balance, winning any race is hard and winning a Group 2 race is something many decent horses never do. We are neglecting the fact that the race was classified at Group 3 at the time, so anyone who objects should simply accept that winning a Group 3 once, much less twice, is something many Thoroughbreds fail to do.
Like others before him, Toledo was thrown into the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap, but Toledo won it, just not until 2001. It might be proper to accuse Toledo of inconsistency though, as 2002 found him running 15th in the Group 1 Oakleigh and 15th in his next Newmarket Handicap try before taking first in the Group 1 Australian Stakes at Moonee Valley, where he nosed out Rubitano, a galloper that would go on to win the Caulfield Sprint in 2002.
Toledo’s consecutive wins reveal a nice galloper. He made 46 starts for eight wins and 13 placings. Those results brought in something a bit over $2 million. Like many Caulfield Sprint winners
We could skip 1999 winner Notoire on the basis of his earning under a million dollars, but this horse made 76 jumps, which earns him automatic inclusion in this article. Notoire was the sort that won early, but never was able to sustain winning once moved up in grade. Many of his 86 starts were outside of the metro tracks and his Caulfield Sprint win was his oasis in his desert of low finishes.
Our next winner, Camena, was a mare whose earnings almost equaled those of Notoire. The vast gulf between those two was that Camena needed only 15 starts to Notoire’s 76. Her win in 2000 was possible her best win, unless someone considers the Group 2 win in the 2000 Light Fingers Stakes the superior victory. Some might point to her second in the Group 1 The Galaxy at Randwick as her zenith.
We skip over the 2001 winner, Windigo, other than to say he won the race then known as the Mercedes-Benz Sprint a week after his previous jump and we like those sorts that do not head for the spelling grounds for two months after a win.
Rubitano, the 2002 winner, was, with the exception of Schillaci, perhaps the most recongnisable winner. He made just 21 starts, but he won the Newmarket in 2002 and the Group 1 Salinger that same year before a few poor results found him retired in 2003. Fans can say that Rubitano was the only horse in history to win the National Telecoms Group Sprint, as 2002 was the only year there was a race by that name.
Biscayne Bay was the 2006 winner. Fans of this one can say that he was the first horse in history to win the Thai Airways International Sprint, as the Caulfield Sprint became known in that year.
We mention 2008 winner Sunburnt Land because he was electrocuted to death in a freak accident while spelling later that year when he was struck by lightning.
Set For Fame was the 2010 winner. He supplied a nice return, earning above $650,000 from 18 starts.
Spirit Of Boom, the 2013 winner, might be considered in the same breath as Schillaci and Rubitano. He earned above $2.2 million and he won two Group 1 races he year following his Caulfield Sprint win. He had high finishes multiple quality Group races. He would become a champion sire in Queensland.
The next two years of the Caulfield Sprint were quite remarkable.
The race dead heated in 2014 between Miracles Of Life and Bel Sprinter. Dead heats in metro races are rare, so when 2015 produced a consecutive drawn outcome between Éclair Choice and Lumosty, it was rarefied air indeed that must have been making the rounds at Caulfield.
2018 winner Eduardo has earned over $2.6 million as of mid-2021. He may be done, he may be back, we do not know. He has two Group 1 wins to his credit to go with three Group 2s. He has several high finishes in other major races.
Graff was the most recent winner. He has made well over a million dollars with just four wins and three placings and is still on the job, although he has been hopping trainers and jockeys. He won the Caulfield Sprint first up after moving from Kris Lees to Danny O’Brien and leaving behind marquee hoops Hugh Bowman and Kerrin McEvoy to Damien Oliver for the win in 2020.
The Caulfield Sprint, by whatever name you choose to call it, is one of those sprint races that are proving very popular with Thoroughbred connections and fans. A few of the gallopers to win have either won big previously or do so after and a few count the Caulfield Sprint as their best win.
|Year||Caulfield Sprint Winners|
|2016||Our Boy Malachi|
|2014||Miracles Of Life|
|2013||Spirit Of Boom|
|2010||Set For Fame|
|1990||Rise 'N' Shine|