The Group 2 Schillaci Stakes is a sprinters’ race of 1100 metres run under weight-for-age conditions at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne.
Horses of either gender aged three and over that have won previously are eligible to take part in the race.
Prizemoney for the race is $300,000 as of 2021.
The winner of the most recent race in 2020 was Dirty Work, a four-year-old at the time of his win that has since been retired with the Schillaci as his last and best win, for which he received $180,000.
It will require just over a minute of time to watch Dirty Work clean up on the field at the below link.
History of the Schillaci Stakes
The Schillaci Stakes was part of a period in the increase in the number of races and the demand for sprints was expanding.
Some top shelf sprinters have won the race over the years, once-in-a-generation sorts that contribute to the mystique of Thoroughbred racing and Thoroughbred racing history in the greatest country for the sport in the world, where limits on hyperbole are nonexistent.
It is exciting to share the moment with future legends and to have the opportunity to say we remember.
The race debuted as the Chirnside Stakes in 1970. We thought the name might refer to a Scottish village that is just inland from the eastern coast about an hour’s drive by motorcar from Edinburgh.
It turns out that there was a Thomas Chirnside born in the general vicinity in Scotland who left for Australia in 1839. He ran some sheep stations on land that would eventually become western Melbourne.
The race name stayed the same through 1999, becoming the Schillaci Stakes in 2000. Thus, this sprinting race is named in honour of a sprinter that never jumped in this race, although he was a multiple Group 1 winner at Caulfield.
The distance for the race has always been 1200 metres. There was an unusual 1219 metres used for 1986. It was run over 1000 metres from 1988 through 2014 and the current 1100-metre distance was set in 2015.
From the grade perspective, it was a Principal race from inception until the Group system came into use and from that point forward, the Schillaci Stakes has been a Group 2 race.
Race Venue for the Schillaci Stakes
Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne is one of three major metro tracks. It comes in between Flemington and Moonee Valley with regard to the magnitude of the races staged.
The Caulfield Cup is the most prestigious race held at Caulfield and with its running in October, sets the stage for the watch for a Cups double if the winner can win the Melbourne Cup after winning the Caulfield.
Caulfield Racecourse currently stages 12 Group 1, 8 Group 2 and 19 Group 3 races. The Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes in February is one of the premier juvenile races in the country.
Further details about Caulfield Racecourse can be found here.
Racing History for the Schillaci Stakes
The Schillaci Stakes has had some famous winners. Even though it is a Group 2 race during the spring when there are plenty of Group 1 races to be found, the Schillaci Stakes is in a prime spot of the spring racing calendar. Many of the top sprinters use this as preparation for the Group 1 sprints that follow, such as the Manikato Stakes or the VRC Sprint Classic.
Even though not all the winners have been top echelon gallopers, many were good enough to win the Schillaci Stakes when there were top horses in the field; others have gone on to win Group 1 races and earn the right to jump in The Everest.
We generally mention the first winner because it is worth noting when something is done for the first time and in the case of the Schillaci Stakes, the first winner was Regal Vista in 1970. Not much about this horse’s racing has made it to the present time. We know his lines and they look as though they took the unpopular horses and blended them.
Much the same could be said about Proud Toff, the winner from 1971, although his lines contained some famous names. His sire was Ireland’s Better Boy. Other notables were Hyperion Gainsborough and The Night Patrol, all from the dam side.
Tolerance was the 1972 winner and shared many lines with Proud Toff, including the same sire.
He was the better racer of the two, winner of such races as the Blue Diamond Stakes, the Ascot Vale Stakes and the Sires’ Produce Stakes, and six or so minor races.
The next winner, from 1973, was Prize Lad that shared sires with Proud Toff and Regal Vista.
Grey Way won in 1974. He was a New Zealand horse that broke the stranglehold the progeny of Better Boy had held on the race.
Grey Way is instantly and irrevocably the head of the class if there truly was a Pro Group Racing Hall of Fame. The reason? He made 164 jumps. He won 50 races in New Zealand, but just the one in Australia, the then Chirnside now Schillaci Stakes. Years of examining racing records for Thoroughbreds has yet to reveal a horse that made more jumps.
Additionally, he was a grey like our hero Chautauqua and was still racing as a 10-year-old.
Tonotan took the Schillaci Stakes is 1975. He was a true racing force. His big wins were numerous, including races such as the Golden Slipper Stakes, All-Aged Stakes and others. His record was 16 jumps for 12 wins and two placings.
We could not skip 1976 winner Bold Mayo.
Everyone likes assertive condiments. Bold Mayo got the Bold from his grandsire, the remarkable U.S. horse Bold Ruler. The Mayo was from his dam Mayo Gold. His lines included Star Kingdom, which seems to be found in almost every winner we have ever investigated.
The first mare we find for a winner was 1977’s Desirable.
She won 10 and placed in six others from 22 jumps. She won both the AJC and the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes, along with the Lightning Stakes and the Newmarket Handicap.
The next winner was 1978’s The Judge.
This was a fine galloper by any measure. He won 10 times from 26 jumps with an additional five placings. Like Desirable, The Judge won the Lightning Stakes and won the A J Moir Stakes twice. His bigger contribution was serving as the sire of Zeditave.
Mr. Magic was the 1979 winner. What we were almost shocked to discover was that two authoritative sources upon which we rely denied that a horse named Mr. Magic existed. There is a first time for everything, we suppose.
This was not that time, however, as a small formatting error can make a big difference. Not only was there a Mr. Magic, there were many of him. Ours won several other races, but the Schillaci Stakes was his best win. He did spread his wins over six years, so he was a good sort.
What we have seen so far are many instances of good horses winning in the early days of the Schillaci Stakes.
In that light, we are skipping ahead to 1986 to learn that the winner that year was Belle Spirit. She did not scorch the turf by any measure, but she was a grey mare, so we instantly liked her. She was the type of horse some like to refer to as handy. We had to go back five generations to find a recognisable ancestor in Italy’s Nearco and Great Britain’s Hyperion, both from the dam side.
We found a better grade of galloper when we arrived on 1988 to find Rancho Ruler as the winner for that year.
Rancho Ruler earned over a million dollars when that was still a challenging feat. There were only four others in the field when he won, but he won his next two races in the Manikato and Memsie Stakes when both those races were still Group 2 quality. He did break through for a Group 1 win in the 1988 Marlboro Cup, which is now registered as the Invitation Stakes and commonly known as the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
The first to win the race twice was Street Ruffian in 1990 and 1991.
Another instant PGR Hall of Fame horse for his 99 starts…What, they couldn’t let him jump once more to make it an even 100?
He could have been called Turf Ruffian, because he was rough on the other horses in his races. His other wins include the Manikato Stakes the SAJC Lightning Stakes and some Group 3 races. He came within a neck of beating Redelva in the 1991 Memsie Stakes, but the horse he beat into third was none other than 1992 Caulfield Cup winner Mannerism.
Bint Marscay was a good mare that won the Schillaci Stakes in 1994.
Her big win was the STC Golden Slipper Stakes and although she made only 10 jumps for four wins and four placings, she parlayed that into $1.5 million in earnings.
The race was dead heated in 1996 with Sequalo and Sword sharing the win.
Sequalo was a good racer that won 10 times and placed near the top in some major races. A couple of his big wins were the Linlithgow Stakes and the A. J. Moir Stakes. Sword was good too, winning the SAJC Group 1 Goodwood Handicap and some other significant races.
We encounter our first true great horse in the 1997 winner Mahogany.
Mahogany targeted three-year-old staying races, where he won the Victoria Derby and the AJC Derby. He won the Lightning Stakes twice and the Sires’ Produce Stakes. He earned over $3.6 million and was the dual recipient of Australian Champion Three Year Old and Australian Horse of the Year from 1993/94. In 1995, he nearly beat Octagonal in the Cox Plate.
A steady progression of the quality of the winners of the Schillaci Stakes brings us to 2000 winner Falvelon.
Falvelon won the first year the race switched from being the Chirnside Stakes to the Schillaci Stakes.
Falvelon was undefeated as a two-year-old, winning his first seven jumps. He was twice declared Australian Champion Sprinter. He won nearly $4 million from 37 jumps for 15 wins and 13 placings, so the punters must have loved him.
He was often matched against the 2002 winner of the Schillaci Stakes, Spinning Hill. The two dueled on multiple occasions. Falvelon had the upper hand in winning the 2001 Doomben 10,000. Spinning Hill returned the favour to win the Schillaci from Falvelon.
Four years later, 2006, the top sprinter Miss Andretti won the race.
We would say Miss Andretti was a once-in-a-generation sprinter, except for one from the same generation to appear just a few years later.
Miss Andretti was fast.
How fast was she?
At one point, she held five track records in Australia and Great Britain. She won 19 times from 31 jumps and was Australia’s Champion Racehorse in 2007, the year she won The Age Classic, the Newmarket Handicap, the Australia Stakes and the Lightning Stakes at Group 1 level.
Maybe we should say she was a twice-in-a-generation sprinter because not far behind her was the 2010/11 winner and the only other horse aside from Street Ruffian to win the Schillaci Stakes twice.
We are speaking, of course, of Black Caviar.
All that needs to be said about Black Caviar is that she won all 25 of her jumps. She can be seen winning the 2011 Schillaci Stakes here:
We actually say quite a bit more about her. Anyone who wants a more detailed account of Black Caviar click here.
We would say the rest of the list is uninspiring, but that would ignore the 2012 winner, Buffering.
Buffering won over $7 million. He was matched against Black Caviar on three occasions, and while he never beat her, he more than doubled her number of jumps. Some measure of Buffering’s ability comes from his win over Spirit Of Boom in the 2013 Group 2 Victory Stakes at Doomben.
The next true notable winner of the Schillaci Stakes was 2019’s Trekking. Trekking has won over $5.2 million and is still racing as a seven-year-old. He ran fourth in The Everest in 2020, although he has not won since taking The Goodwood in May of 2020.
The 2020 winner was Dirty Work. That race can be seen here:
The Schillaci Stakes is one of the better sprints during the spring season.
It has attracted better fields as the race has matured and it would not be surprising to see it elevated to Group 1 status at some point, although that might necessitate switching it to a different slot on the Australian Thoroughbred racing calendar.
|Year||Schillaci Stakes Winners|
|2018||Ball Of Muscle|
|1998||Show No Emotion|