The Bill Stutt Stakes is a Group 2 Thoroughbred race held at Moonee Valley Racecourse for three-year-olds of either gender.
It is 1600-metres long and is run under set weight conditions, where colts and geldings race at 57 kilograms, while fillies race at 55 kilograms.
Bill Stutt Stakes Race Details
Racecourse: Moonee Valley
Race Distance: 1600m
Prize Money: $300,000
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When Is The Bill Stutt Stakes: 27/9/2024
What Time Is The Bill Stutt Stakes: TBC
Where Is The Bill Stutt Stakes: Moonee Valley Racecourse
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More Details About The Bill Stutt Stakes
The race is held around the end of September on the same day as the Group 1 A J Moir Stakes, on a Friday evening under the lights of the Moonee Valley Racecourse. There is another Group 2 race, the W H Stocks Stakes at the same meeting. There are also two Group 3 races, which are the JRA Cup and the Scarborough Stakes.
The Bill Stutt stakes offers $300,000 in prizemoney. The 2021 winner was Forgot You that earned first place money of $180,000 by beating Mr. Mozart into second by a neck. Forgot You was by Savabeel and Savabeel was by the 1989 winner of the race, Zabeel.
History of the Bill Stutt Stakes
This race made its debut in 1934 as the Moonee Valley Stakes. It kept that name until 1990, when it was renamed to honour former Moonee Valley Racing Club chairman Bill Stutt. He must have been a lesser chairman than A J Moir, because Moir has a Group 1 race named in his honour. Bill Stutt was the MVRC chairman in from 1978 through 1989, but he had been on the executive committee since 1964.
While that service to the sport of Thoroughbred racing earned Stutt the Member of the Order of Australia, he was integral in promoting the Cox Plate and weight-for-age racing in general, and a pilot in World War II.
Shame then, that the MVRC could find only a set weights race to attach to the name of Bill Stutt.
The Bill Stutt Stakes has always been 1600 metres since metrication. Prior, it was considered a mile race. There were some years, 1986, 1990 and 1993, where the race had an additional 14 metres tacked on. This is interesting, because the other Group 2 race of the meeting, the W H Stocks Stakes for four-year-old mares, had that same extra bit added on in 1993. In the final year as the Moonee Valley Stakes, 1989, the trip was actually 1619 metres. Was that extra 19 metres added to help 1989 winner Zabeel? Almost as though the MVRC was saying the race would go on until Zabeel won and that he needed those 19 metres to catch and pass Dr. Grace. That whimsical speculation is probably not accurate, as Zabeel was not a great racer. He was a great sire, though, producing 46 Group 1 victories from his progeny.
The race has always been considered a Principal race, going straight to Group 2 when the Group system was launched in 1979.
Venue for the Bill Stutt Stakes
The race has always been held at Melbourne’s Moonee Valley Racecourse, not far from Flemington Racecourse.
Moonee Valley is a tight track, so barriers are important. It has the shortest finishing straight of any of the metro tracks. Front-runners and horses on the speed going into the straight have the advantage. Many races are decided in the final 200 metres on all tracks, but in the case of Moonee Valley that final 200 metres includes a bit of a turn.
Moonee Valley opened in 1883 on land William Samuel Cox purchased expressly for the purpose of developing a racecourse.
Racing History of the Bill Stutt Stakes
Keeping in mind that the race was the Moonee Valley Stakes from the first jump in 1934 through 1989, we hope no one will hold it against us for referring to the race by the current name of Bill Stutt Stakes, even if it was run more times under the original name.
In its 88-year history, through 2021, the race has followed a similar pattern to many other races. The early winners were undistinguished, even if good enough to win a Principal race. Of course, the three-year-old age restriction means that no horse has ever won the race twice.
The first winner was Titanium, a proper name for a galloper if ever there was one, so proper that we found no fewer than 24 horses with that name. What we found perplexing, though, is that for Titanium to win in 1934, it would have had to foal in 1931 and there were no horses in the database from that year, or even anything close.
Something of a mystery it is, this phantom Titanium, a mystery that might go unsolved, at least for the immediate term.
We did better with the 1935 winner, Valiant Chief, another good horse name.
His pedigree is not great, but for the fact that his sire was the great champion Heroic, a prodigious winner and 2003 inductee to the Australian Racing Hall of Fame. He won 11 races that are now classified as Group 1 races. Valiant Chief served stud, but nothing noteworthy, as best we can tell. He produced 52 named progeny, 39 of which were fillies, if that reveals anything.
The 1936 winner is given as Silver Reign, but we encountered a similar scenario to that with Titanium; no horses by the name of Silver Reign foaled anywhere in 1933. We found no instance of the name prior to 1964.
In all the races we have examined in the course of 12-plus years, this is the first race we can recall where we could find no reliable evidence of the existence of the listed winner. To have this happen twice borders on phenomenal.
So, when we went looking for 1937 winner Lochlee, the mystery deepened further, because unlike Titanium and Silver Reign, there were no instances of a horse by the name of Lochlee. Suspecting a spelling error, we tried multiple variations of Lochlee without success.
The 1938 winner Cassio was similar to Valiant Chief in that he was a Heroic foal. We could find no racing record, but at this stage of the procedure, we were almost deliriously happy to find a horse by that name with a 1935 birth date.
A sense of normalcy returned with 1939 winner Pure Gold. Pure Gold was another progeny of Heroic.
The winner from 1941 was the first truly significant horse we encountered on the list of Bill Stutt Stakes winners.
It was Skipton, the winner of the 1941 Melbourne Cup. He won the Caulfield Cup in 1943, the year the race was run in divisions. The winner of the other division was Saint Warden.
Running the Caulfield Cup in divisions might have been out of a desire to avoid the incident in 1885 that is known as the worst fall in the history of Australian Racing, where 15 of 44 horses fell whilst turning for home. Forty-four horses must have more closely resembled a stampede than a race.
Precept, from 1943, claimed two-time Melbourne Cup winner Peter Pan as his sire. Precept’s big win was the 1943 Victoria Derby. Like his sire, Precept never produced significant progeny.
Seeing the pattern we have seen so often, that of modest horses winning a race, we skipped ahead to 1966 winner Storm Queen.
Storm Queen was one of Bart Cummings’ lot. She was quite impressive in 1966 and she won five races that would become Group 1. Her notable win was the 1966 Golden Slipper Stakes in her 2YO season where she won eight consecutive races.
If Storm Queen could be viewed as evidence that the fields of the Bill Stutt Stakes were improving, further proof was not long in coming courtesy of 1969 winner Daryl’s Joy. A bargain at $1,100, Daryl’s Joy was unleashed when the horse won the Cox Plate that same year, along with the Victoria Derby. Daryl’s Joy won 16 times from 30 jumps. He won six times in the U.S. One of the horses he beat in his Bill Stutt Stakes win was none other than Vain.
The next notable winner we encountered was 1973’s Taj Rossi.
Another Bart Cummings horse, Taj Rossi also won the Cox Plate and the Victoria Derby, just as Storm Queen had done previously. He was the Australian Horse of the Year of the 1973/74 season.
Standing stud, Taj Rossi produced some stakes winners, most notable being Rossi Gold that earned almost $1 million racing in the U.S., and a mare named Taj Eclipse that won $128,000 from just five jumps.
It was bound to happen sooner or later and whether you consider 1976 sooner, or if you consider it later, there was no doubting the credentials of the winner from that year, Surround.
Surround was one of the better mares to race in Australia, winning the 1976 Cox Plate and five other Group 1 races in the final years before the Group classification system went into effect. She was Australian Racehorse of the year in 1977, went into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2014 and has the Group 1 Surround Stakes run in her honour at Randwick.
Red Anchor from 1984 was a galloper that did his major winning when he was transferred from trainer Paul Sutherland to T J Smith.
Anchor jumped just 14 times, but was never worse than third, and that just once alongside nine wins and four seconds. His win of the Stutt Stakes in 1984 was accompanied by wins in the Cox Plate and the Victoria Derby. He was Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year in 1985. He was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2021 and the Red Anchor Stakes is a Group 3 race run in his honour at The Valley. A prolific sire, Red Anchor’s best in terms of prizemoney was 1993’s Sea Jester out of Lighter Side, but 1989’s Navy Seal out of Autumn Star did well, too.
Speaking of 1989, the winner from that year was Zabeel.
Zabeel was a stallion that won over $1 million form 19 jumps. He was sent to stud, where he eclipsed his racing career many times over as the sire of Octagonal, Might and Power, Efficient, Savabeel and Jezabeel. Those horses account for three Melbourne Cup, four Cox Plate and two Caulfield Cup victories. An additional Caulfield Cup win came in 1999, courtesy of Sky Heights.
Canny Lad from 1990 deserves a mention. He won six of his seven starts as a two-year-old, with Group 1 wins in the Golden Slipper Stakes and the Sires’ Produce Stakes, doing his lines proud, lines that included sire Bletchingly, grandsire Biscay and great-grandsire Star Kingdom.
Canny Lad would sire too many stakes winners to count, including a couple that went beyond $1 million in earnings.
The next notable was 1996’s Encosta De Lago.
He made only eight jumps for three wins and three placings. He won twice at Group 1 level with the Vic health Club (Sir Rupert Clarke Invitation Stakes and the Ascot Vale (Coolmore Stud) Stakes. Encosta De Lago may have sired more stakes winners than Canny Lad, but without question, his best was $3.4 million winner Alinghi.
As a footnote or sorts, we mention that the Bill Stutt Stakes in 1998 was a dead heat between Helm and St. Clemens Bride.
Our next notable was the winner in 2008, Whobegotyou.
He won over $3.1 million and was the Australian Champion Three Year Old from the 2008/09 season.
Pierro from 2012 won over $4.5 million for Gai Waterhouse. With Lonhro for his sire and Octagonal for grandsire, it is no fluke that Pierro won 11 times and had three placings from just 14 jumps. Standing at Coolmore Stud, his best has been Arcadia Queen, but Regal Power, Shadow Hero, Pinot, Pierata and Levendi have won Group 1 races.
The following link provides a glimpse of Pierro’s Victorian debut.
Next, one of our recent favourites, Hey Doc, was the 2016 winner of the Bill Stutt Stakes.
Hey Doc won the Group 1 Manikato Stakes twice (2017 and 2020). He won two additional Group 1 races, the 2019 Winterbottom Stakes and the 2017 Australian Guineas. He was retired in 2021.
The rest of the winners list is Showtime (2017), Leonardo Da Hinchi (2018), The Holy One (2019) and Glenfiddich (2020).
The Bill Stutt Stakes has risen from its humbler beginnings as the Moonee Valley Stakes to a degree of prominence, thanks to recent years when better types started nominating.
That trend, in our opinion, started with Surround’s win in 1976.
As a race for three-year-olds, it provides a nice picture of which gallopers might be worth a punt in the bigger races of the spring carnivals, and even which might be worth following as older horses.
Bill Stutt Stakes Past Winners
|2019||The Holy One|
|2018||Leonardo Da Hinchi|
|2011||Chase The Rainbow|
|1998||St. Clemens Belle|
|1996||Encosta De Lago|
|1991||Ready To Explode|