The How Now Stakes is a Group 3 race run by the Melbourne Racing Club. It is held at Caulfield Racecourse in late September.
The race is open to mares that are at least four years old and they run under set weight plus penalty conditions.
How Now Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1200m
Prize Money: $200,000
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When Is The How Now Stakes: 16/11/24
What Time Is The How Now Stakes: TBA
Where Is The How Now Stakes: Caulfield Racecourse
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More Details About The How Now Stakes
There are not a lot of races for specifically for four-year-old mares and it is easy to conclude that the How Now Stakes is a final opportunity for some mares to improve their chances as breeders. Another win could make the difference in the quality of the sire selected to serve.
The race is a 1200-metre sprint that is worth $200,000 in prizemoney.
Bella Nipotina was the winner in 2021, claiming the $120,000 prize for first place, along with a tidy little $750 bonus.
History of the How Now Stakes
The race is named in honour of How Now, a New Zealand mare foaled in 1972. Her pedigree was fairly modest for the first few generations, with a lot of French DNA on the side of her sire In The Purple. We will skip the French jokes about running fast, so long as it is in the right direction. How Now has distant connections to a couple of British studs that have exerted vast influence on Australian Thoroughbred racing – Hyperion and Gainsborough.
How Now won enough races that we can dispense with the jokes about how easy it is to achieve having a race named after you in Victoria.
No, How Now was a three-time Group 1 winner of the AJC Oaks, the Caulfield Stakes, the Underwood Stakes and the Caulfield Cup. We know of three additional wins that were of Group 2 level, along with some placings in Group 1 and 2 races.
How Now produced three foals by Without Fear, a sire of dubious quality to a degree that when his named is searched under the pedigree record of How Now, has a different name each time. Served by Bright Finish, she dropped How Bright, a non-racer. Moloney Hayes was the foal by Vain in 1977, but that match did not deliver stakes money.
The race made its debut in 1999 as the Cranbourne Daihatsu Stakes. It had four additional names before 2006, the first time it was called the How Now Stakes. It changed to the South Yarra Stakes for 2007, and then became the How Now Stakes from 2008 – 2011. Since, the name of the race has been co-opted by the bookies – Sportingbet, as the Sportingbet Sprint Series Heat 2 for 2012 – 2014. The race had the same name in 2015, except that Sportingbet had been replaced by William Hill. In 2016, the race was called the Ladbrokes Odds Boost Stakes.
In 2020, the race became the Neds How Now Stakes, an insignificant change, since Ladbrokes owns Neds.
The How Now Stakes has always been a 1200-metre sprint, which is rare for these lower ranked races where they fiddle with the trip on a somewhat regular basis. The race has had almost as many names as it has had winners.
It was originally a Listed race from 1999 – 2004, with Group 3 status coming along beginning in 2005.
Venue for the How Now Stakes
The How Now Stakes has always been held at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne.
Caulfield is known as The Heath to some race fans, harking back to the early days of racing, when nine kilometres from the centre of Melbourne put people in mind of the barren Scottish heaths.
The Group 1 Caulfield Cup is the most important race held there, but over the course of a year, the track will play host for 12 Group 1 races and a slew of Group 2 and Group 3 races.
Caulfield Racecourse has a triangular shape.
For 1200-metre races such as the How Now Stakes, the gallopers start from a chute at the southeast side of the course. This gives the runners 850 metres of straight turf before they turn for home and finish on the north side of the track in front of the grandstands.
Racing History of the How Now Stakes
A newer race such as this will seldom supply much history. That history is further dampened by being comprised of mares that if any good, would never be in the race in the first place. They would be in good races or they would be in the breeding sheds.
While mares older than four are permitted to contest the race, there have been no multiple winners.
Basically, what we have when we look at the list of winners of the How Now Stakes, is a collection of what we would have called in the early, less politically correct times, nags and plodders.
We ourselves would have never used those terms, because every Thoroughbred that lines up is, to us, a beautiful specimen of the species and it is not easy to win any horse race, let alone a Group race at the pinnacle of the sport.
That said, we will be looking for mares that had been viewed as potentially great by winning important races at two and three years of age. We will also look for rarer mares that won better races subsequent to winning the How Now Stakes. Lastly, we will look for mares that produced outstanding progeny.
The first winner was Snippet’s Lass in 1999.
She raced 41 times for seven wins and thirteen placings. Given her career earnings of just $288,000 and change meant that she averaged about $7,000 in earnings per race, enough to be mildly profitable we suppose, unless she fetched a big price at the auction. She won some races at Listed level that would eventually be promoted to Group level.
We would have to say she was far, far better as a broodmare. She was served by Redoute’s Choice on multiple occasions, which in 2002 resulted in a $1 million-plus earner named Snitzel. Her next best was Hinchinbrook by Fastnet Rock. Hinchinbrook earned almost $600,000.
The 2000 winner supplied Piavonic, a decent galloper that won many mares’ handicap races. She won the Group 2 Carlyon Stakes and she beat Sunline by two lengths with Falvelon into third in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes for her final win, which was the rare case of a mare winning the How Now Stakes and winning at Group 1 level subsequently.
Piavonic produced seven stakes earners that we know of and she was a frequent consort to Encosta De Lago, but was also receptive to Fastnet Rock and Grand Lodge. Piavonic’s best was Taarish that won over $120,000 racing in South Africa.
Miss Power Bird from 2001 raced just 16 times for five wins and four placings to earn just over $211,000. The How Now Stakes was her best win, even at Listed as the race was in 2001. She was served by great sires, such as Encosta De Lago, Snitzel, Written Tycoon and Zabeel, but she never produced a major stakes winner.
The winner for 2002 was Taimana.
She made just 15 jumps and it is almost tempting to think she was never intended for the track. Her final win was a Group 2 race sponsored by the AJC, except in this case, AJC stands for Avondale Jockey Club. As in, Avondale, New Zealand.
Like others before her, Taimana was served by Zabeel and Redoute’s Choice. The pairing with Redoute’s Choice produced Shelford, a racer that earned around $300,000.
Lovely Jubly was the winner in 2003 and she was the best of the winners to that year. She won over $1.5 million, needing only 19 jumps for seven wins and five placings. About one third of her earnings came from claiming the Magic Million 2YO Classic in 2002. She won a Group 1 Sires’ Produce at Eagle Farm, backed by a win in the Group 1 T J Smith Stakes.
With those results, Lovely Jubly was quickly shifted to the sheds for breeding with the top sires Encosta De Lago (3 foals), More Than Ready (3 foals) and Lonhro. Her best was 2010’s Chautauqua, winner of over $7.3 million in Australia. Chautauqua is an all-time favourite of ours for his taking matters into his own hooves and deciding when it was time to stop racing by refusing to leave the barriers.
Strikeline, the 2004 winner won about half a million dollars from 28 jumps. She had three consecutive wins in a mares’ handicap, followed by the Cockram Stakes and the How Now Stakes. She had a Group 3 win in the Seppelt Wines McEwen Trophy. Served by Niconi, she produced nature Strip in 2014 that won almost $18 million in stakes.
There was a dead heat in 2005 between the mares Sarah Michelle and Brindabella. Sarah Michelle was entirely unremarkable from any perspective. Brindabella won more money, but did nothing at stud.
Queen Of The Hill won in 2006.
She made just 14 jumps for five wins and one place. She threw Kerrin McEvoy in the 2005 Group 2 Age Classic. The How Now Stakes was her last and best win. She jumped twice more in Group 2 races, but she was well back when the winners crossed. She did not produce a major stakes winner, despite having her choice of the boys, such as High Chaparral, More Than Ready, Lonhro and Street Cry.
Miss Judgement from 2007 was a minor racer. The How Now Stakes was her best win. She was sent out in some Group 1 races, but was never better than fifth place in any of them. She was served by some of the same sires as earlier winners, such as Redoute’s Choice, Fastnet Rock, Exceed And Excel and Snitzel. One of the matings with Fastnet Rock supplied a million-dollar-plus winner in Missrock.
Vivacious Spirit from 2008 jumped just 12 times for three wins and six placings. She was often observed racing at or near the back of the pack and her meagre earnings suggest she was just showing off for the boys. The How Now Stakes was her last win and her second-last race.
To date, it would appear her best foal was Costa Viva by Encosta De Lago. Costa Viva dropped in 2010.
Velocitea from 2009 was much in the mold as the previous winners, but she did win at Morphettville at Group 1 level when she took The Goodwood immediately following a second place result in the Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes. Both those Group 1 wins followed her win in the How Now Stakes, so she was a rare instance of a mare that won better races after winning the How Now Stakes. Her last offspring to date was Lancaster Sound by Fastnet Rock. Three foals by Redoute’s Choice have failed to pay off.
Valentine Miss from 2010 was another mare that seemed very similar to the previous winners. She lost two races to Black Caviar, but they all did, didn’t they?
She earned about half a million dollars, but she needed 34 jumps to reach that figure. She has yet to foal anything better than 2017’s Mozzie Monster by Sebring. That filly earned about $100,000.
Sister Madly from 2011 was by Redoute’s Choice out of Jade Tiara. Sister Madly won almost $700,000 from just 17 jumps for four wins and eight placings. She came within 1.5 lengths of winning the Group 1 Flight Stakes from More Joyous in 2009. She had another second in a Group 1 race in the Manikato Stakes in 2011 in her next race following the win in the How Now. She beat More Joyous in that race, and then lost to her by a nose in the Group 1 Tristarc Stakes.
No notable progeny as of yet, but some good sires have tried, including Street Cry, Lonhro, I Am Invincible and Sepoy.
Detours from 2012 made just 16 jumps. The How Now Stakes was her best win and we would have to say she was average, because they gave her all the top hoops to steer, such as McEvoy, Boss and Bowman.
There are no notable Detours progeny to date.
Catkins from 2013 is the best to the year in which she won. Catkins earned over $2 million from 38 jumps for 16 wins and 13 placings. She never won at Group 1 level, but she was well placed in several. She had some Group 2 wins as well and wins in other Group 3 races. She has not delivered a major winner from just two foals by Medaglia D’ Oro, but she is still active as a breeder.
The 2014 winner, Girl Guide, made 23 jumps for six wins and six placings, earning about $400,000. She tried the race again in 2015, where she ran eighth of 14.
Politeness, the winner in 2015, won over $1.1 million from 30 jumps for eight wins and six placings. She did win at Group 1 level after winning the How Now Stakes when she took the Myer Classic over 1600 metres at Flemington in 2015 and she came close to winning the Group 1 Emirates the following month.
Secret Agenda from 2016 won over $1.5 million from 23 jumps for seven wins and six placings.
Like Velocitea from 2009, Secret Agenda scored a Group 1 win in the Robert Sangster Stakes.
Savanna Amour won the How Now Stakes in 2017.
She needed 22 jumps, seven wins and four placings to earn a little under $670,000. Two tries at Group 1 produced nothing better than a fourth place finish in the Tatt’s Tiara at Doomben.
Winter Bride won in 2018. She made 30 jumps for nine wins and nine placings for about $675,000 in stakes. She came close in a couple of Group 1 races, but it is also true she came far back in others.
Manicure from 2019 was by Exceed And Excel out of Trim. She won over $665,000 from 18 jumps for four wins and eight placings. She nearly beat Invincibella in the 2019 Magic Millions Female and Mare, losing by a short head. Her win tally could easily have been double what it was, but that’s racing, as the saying goes.
The 2020 winner was Felicia. She is still racing. To now, mid- 2022, she has made 13 jumps for four wins and seven placings, so we do not think she will race much longer.
Finally, there is the 2021 winner Bella Nipotina that we mentioned at the outset.
The How Now Stakes is as notable for purposes of tracking great breeders more so than for tracking great racers.
There have been a few Group 1 winners, but most of the mares that have won the How Now Stakes were never there to be the next great racer. They were there to strut for the stallions and at least in the case of Lovely Jubly, it paid off handsomely.
How Now Stakes Past Winners
|2006||Queen Of The Hill|
|2001||Miss Power Bird|