The Futurity Stakes is a Group 1 race run at Caulfield Racecourse in February as part of the Melbourne autumn carnivals. At 1400 metres, it is a test for sprinters that focus on the 1000 and 1200 metre races and it is often used by trainers during autumn preparations for the marquee mile events that come along in the autumn carnivals, both in Victoria and New South Wales.
The race is run under weight for age conditions and as of 2020, offers a prizemoney pool of $500,000.
To qualify for the race, a Thoroughbred must be at least three years old and have won at least one race.
Streets Of Avalon was the 2020 winner. He took 60 percent of the prizemoney, which for all the Maroons’ fans out there is $300,000. He jumped for $9.50, so it was not anything resembling a boilover, but those who backed him would have indeed considered their fortunes favourable. Second place was worth $90,000 for betting favourite Super Seth, starting at $2.60 and $45,000 went to Melody Belle ($4.20) for finishing third.
History of the Race
The Futurity Stakes was first run in 1898.
Races were measured in furlongs at that time and from inception through 1972, the Futurity Stakes trip was seven furlongs, which exceeds the current 1400-metre distance by an insignificant eight metres.
Insignificant, that is, unless the horse backed could have won if those extra eight metres had been there.
After metrification in 1973 and through 1978, the race was run over 1400 metres, that trip that tests the pure sprinters and often reveals those Thoroughbreds with the ability to become top milers.
Four hundred metres were added for the 1979 Futurity Stakes for that year only. The distance was an unusual 1411 metres in 1996. No, it was not shifted to Doomben or Eagle Farm; it was run at Flemington while Caulfield was being redone. It was also run at Flemington during the World War II years, as Caulfield was being used by the military.
The next significant change to the trip was for five years spanning the race from 2006 – 2010, when it was made 1600 metres.
Since 2011, the traditional 1400 metres have been used.
With the exceptions noted above, the Futurity Stakes has always been run at Caulfield Racecourse.
The running conditions, the lack of gender restrictions and the long history of the Futurity Stakes all combine to make the racing history extensive and interesting.
The weight for age aspect, in particular, supplies a winners list with multiple repeat wins by some of the greatest Australian Thoroughbreds ever to have taken the turf.
The first winner, in 1898, was a horse named Resolute.
Resolute has been used as a name many times, but Futurity Stakes 1898 winning Resolute was a capable horse that won, in addition, the VRC September Stakes (now known as the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes) and the Oakleigh Plate. He produced a second in the Victoria Derby and a fourth in the Melbourne Cup. He was exported to England soon after and then the U.S. in 1902.
Gladsome was the first to produce two consecutive wins in 1905 and 1906. She was later to become a champion stayer that won 18 stakes races. She made 64 starts for 27 wins and 23 placings.
The first of the more significant winners was Comedy King in 1910. He is notable for being the first Northern-Hemisphere bred horse to win the Melbourne Cup, which win was also in 1910.
The next was Eurythmic in 1922. An historical aside we must include here is that the Futurity Stakes was not run in 1921 because of an embargo on racing in Melbourne imposed by the government of Victoria. It seems that there was a shipping strike and a coal shortage, according to newspaper reports dated 17 February 1921. The embargo did not last long, as the 1921 Newmarket Handicap was run in March of that year.
We could devote the balance of this article to Eurythmic, but for here, we will mention that he is in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame and that from 1918, he won just about everything, including a Caulfield Cup, three Memsie and three Caulfield Stakes and two Melbourne Stakes. His Futurity Stakes win in 1922 was when his career was winding down. He raced 47 times, winning 31 and placing 10 times.
A horse known as The Hawk won in 1924. He was a New Zealand-bred racer and while we often associate New Zealand horses with staying ability, The Hawk is notable for staying around for a staggering 146 races, racing until he was 13 years old. He won the Hill Stakes, the St. George Stakes, the Essendon Stakes and the C M Lloyd Stakes, all two times.
The winners’ list gets interesting from this point.
It was Gothic in 1928. Gothic won the Newmarket Handicap twice, along with more than a few other major races.
Next, we will mention Amounis (1930) and Phar Lap (1931). Those two require little expansion, but for any reader interested, see fuller details for Amounis here.
For Phar Lap, look here.
The year of 1932 produced Ammon Ra as the Futurity Stakes winner. Ammon Ra was another New Zealander that won such prestigious races as the AJC Sire Produce Stakes and the Chipping Norton Stakes.
A horse with the intriguing name Winooka was the 1933 winner. He was by Windbag and in that same year, Winooka won the Doncaster Handicap and the All Aged Plate.
A significant winner, if not a household name, was 1937’s Gold Rod. He started winning in 1935 and continued to win major races until 1940. His other big wins during his Futurity Stakes winning year were the AJC St. Leger, the Epson Handicap and the VRC Essendon Stakes. He won the 1939 Doncaster Handicap in 1939.
Gold Rod was a harbinger of sorts for the champion Thoroughbred that would dominate the Futurity Stakes for the next three years.
That Thoroughbred was none other than Ajax.
A brief synopsis of the racing career of Ajax includes two Linlithgow Stakes, three All Aged Stakes, a Cox Plate three Memsie Stakes, three Underwood Stakes and two Melbourne Stakes to complement his three Futurity Stakes wins. Ajax is of course a Hall of Fame horse and further details of his extraordinary career can be found here,
The winner in 1941 was High Caste; it was one of the World War II years when the race was shifted o Flemington. The Futurity Stakes win was nearer the end than the beginning of his career, but he won major races such as the C B Fisher Plate (thrice), the Caulfield Stakes (twice) the Linlithgow Stakes (thrice) the Challenge Stakes (twice) and the St. George Stakes (twice).
Bernborough was the 1946 winner of the Futurity Stakes. He won 11 major races spread across the season in 1946. His full racing resume can be found under the Racing Articles section of this website.
We will fast forward through the next period of the Futurity Stakes and simply list the formidable Thoroughbreds that won the Futurity Stakes.
They were Royal gem (1948), followed by twice consecutive winner St. Razzle (1949 and 1950).
Next came San Domenico (1952), Price Cortauld (1955), Lord (1959), Todman (1960), Sky High (1961), and Wenona Girl (1963).
Gunsynd was the 1972 Futurity Stakes winner. He became a staying champion for trainer T J Smith. He was nearly unbeatable at races above a mile. He won the Cox Plate in the spring of 1972 and he won the VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1972 and 1973.
A lesser-known winner was Idolou that produced two consecutive victories in 1973 and 1974, which brings us to 1979 – 1981 three-time winner Manikato.
Manikato was not content with three Futurity Stakes wins. He took the race again in 1983 and he owned the William Reid Stakes five times consecutively from 1979 – 1983. He was the Australian Horse of the Year in 1979 and a Racing Australia Hall of Fame inductee in 2002.
Rubiton was the winner in 1987 and he would win the Cox Plate that same year.
He was followed by Vo Rogue in 1988. Vo Rogue raced 83 times for 26 wins and 23 placings and won over $3 million. Vo Rogue won several major races multiple times, including two Turnbull Stakes, two Blamey Stakes, three C F Orr Stakes, two St. George Stakes and two Australian Cups.
We will make brief mention of 1991 winner Redelva and proceed to 1993 and 1995 Futurity Stakes winner Schillaci.
Schillaci highlights the intriguing nature of weight for age racing by winning twice with an intervening year. He won eight Group 1 races all together and did his part to polish the reputation of trainer Lee Freedman, if it can be said that Freedman’s reputation was in any need of polishing.
Our next significant Futurity Stakes winner was named Reset. Reset was arguable more significant as a sire than as a racer. He was responsible for Rebel Raider (Victoria Derby, South Australian Derby), Fawkner (Caulfield Cup, Caulfield Stakes, Makybe Diva Stakes), Pinker Pinker (Cox Plate), Hauraki (Epsom Handicap) and Set Square (VRC Oaks). Reset was by Zabeel, so the fact that his progeny were so successful is easy to explain.
We pass over several good horses until we reach 2006 winner Fields Of Omagh.
Fields of Omagh lends extra support to our argument about weight for age racing when we see his record revealing Cox Plate wins in 2003 and 2006. He won nearly $6.5 million. His second Cox Plate victory was as a 10-year-old. We must not fail to mention that he was second to Savabeel in the 2004 Cox Plate and third to Makybe Diva in the 2005 Cox Plate. It is easy to imagine a scenario where Fields of Omagh could claim four Cox Plates wins. His losses in 2004 and 2005 were by a total of 2.4 lengths.
The two-time winner of the Futurity Stakes in 2008 and 2009 was Niconero.
Then came Typhoon Tracy (2010), followed by More Joyous in 2011.
More Joyous raced 30 times, won 21 times and placed twice, winning almost $4.5 million.
Sauvito was the 2015 winner. She beat Smokin’ Joe and Dissident for her Futurity Stakes win. Another Group 1 win was the 2016 Group 1 C F Orr Stakes.
Our sentimental streak for the older horses and those that fought mightily to chase down Winx is revealed by 2017 winner Black Heart Bart.
Bart won back-to-back Group 1 races in 2017; the other alongside the Futurity Stakes was the C F Orr Stakes.
Bart’s greatest feat, in our view, was winning his second Group 1 Underwood Stakes in 2019, when he jumped $101.
Brave Smash was the 2018 winner. He is now retired and after the Futurity Stakes victory, he had his last win in the 2018 Group 1 Manikato Stakes.
The Futurity Stakes was won by Alizee in 2019. She is now retired after winning three Group 1 races, the others being the Flight Stakes and the Queen of the Turf Stakes.
The history of the Futurity Stakes includes some of the best ever to set hooves on Australian turf. As the race happens early in the autumn part of the racing season, many of the winners have used the race to springboard to longer trips and wins in some of the biggest races on the Australian Thoroughbred racing calendar, not only during the autumn races, but also during the spring carnivals. Best Bets for this years Futurity Stakes.
Names like Ajax, Bernborough, Phar Lap, Amounis and Manikato supply the necessary evidence that the Futurity Stakes in prominent in the minds of trainers, owners and jockeys.
Racing punters look at the Futurity Stakes as a must-see race and even the non-racing general public often have a look at the race to learn the names of future major race winners.
|Year||Futurity Stakes Winners|
|2020||Streets Of Avalon|
|2017||Black Heart Bart|
|2016||Turn Me Loose|
|2014||Moment Of Change|
|2013||All Too Hard|
|2006||Fields Of Omagh|
|2002||Dash For Cash|
|1915||Flash Of Steel|