The Sunline Stakes is a Group 2 race of 1600 metres for fillies and mares aged three years and above held at Moonee Valley Racecourse in Melbourne during March. It is run under weight-for-age conditions.
Prizemoney for the race is currently $300,000 as of 2023.
Sunline Stakes Race Details
Racecourse: Moonee Valley
Race Distance: 1600m
Prize Money: $300,000
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When Is The Sunline Stakes: 22/3/24
What Time Is The Sunline Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Sunline Stakes: Moonee Valley Racecourse
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More Details About The Sunline Stakes
The $180,000 first place money was claimed in 2023 by Sirileo Miss. She ran away with the race, winning by over five lengths over her seven rivals in the race.
The five-year-old mare is having a nice racing career, having made 25 jumps for nine wins and six placings for earnings of $963,000.
Her win in the Sunline Stakes backed her win in her previous jump in the Group 3 Matron Stakes. She last raced in early April of 2023, when she had a form defying day and finished 13th in the Group 1 Queen of the Turf Stakes, where she jumped as the second favourite.
The race is run under the lights on a Friday evening. Were we horses, we would be highly in favour of racing at night as opposed to some blazing Melbourne sun.
The race is staged alongside the Group 1 William Reid Stakes and the meeting includes The Group 3 Alexandra Stakes and the Listed grade The Valley Pearl.
It would seem shrewd marketing on the part of the Moonee Valley Racing Club, or should we follow the lead of the venue and simply call the MVRC the Valley Racing Club (VRC)? Something suggests to us the Victorian Racing Club might object, so since they want to call the track The Valley, maybe TVRC for The Valley Racing Club would mollify the VRC.
The shrewd part is holding the race on Friday evening, as the previous weekend and the Saturday meetings following the MVRC’s Friday meeting are simply filthy with major Group 1 races at Randwick and Rosehill.
History of the Sunline Stakes
The race debuted in 1981 as the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. It was designated as the Anthea Crawford Stakes for the 2000 running. The current name came into use in 2001.
Distance for the race has been a relatively constant 1600 metres, although in 1995, the race was moved to Flemington for one jump and the powers that be seemed to think it was necessary to add 23 metres to the trip. The only other modification was in 2005, when the race was staged at 1500 metres.
The Sunline Stakes was a Listed grade race from the first jump through 1990. It jumped as a Group 3 race from 1991 through 1995 and has been the current Group 2 grade since 1996.
As a race with no upper age restriction, it would seem that there would be multiple winners, but the only racer, as of 2023, to win the race more than once was Spirit Song in 2012 and 2013.
Venue for the Sunline Stakes
Moonee Valley Racecourse, or The Valley, as the MVRC seems to prefer, or possibly, it is the preference of major sponsor Ladbrokes, is just north of Flemington Racecourse, both of which are just north of the Melbourne CBD.
The course opened in 1883 and its major claim is being the site of the race that is considered Australia’s weight-for-age championship, the W. S. Cox Plate.
The course resembles a traditional oval, provided that the oval was sliced open in the turns and some short straights inserted.
For a 1600-metre race such as the Sunline Stakes, the barriers are placed about midway through the straight on the south side of the course. The racers run three turns before heading for the finish line in front of the stands on the west end of the course.
The Valley is a tight course of just over 1800 metres circumference, so the Sunline Stakes covers all by 200 metres of the track.
Racing History of the Sunline Stakes
In many instances, owners and trainers with truly talented mares aged three and over are focused on the many Group 1 races of 1600 metres that are staged during autumn racing carnivals. Being held in in March the Sunline Stakes is more of a lead up race for major races held in April, but the race still gets its share of good gallopers.
We will look through the list of winners for any that would go further by winning Group 1 races, winners that earned big prizemoney and mares that supplied foals that developed into better racers.
The winner of the first Sunline Stakes in 1981 was Epillette.
All we could find concerning her racing is that she won the race. She had a productive breeding career as dam to six colts and four fillies over a span of years from 1981 through 1994. None was especially adept as racers, but 10 foals represent a good career.
The next winner in 1982 was Lady Ice. She was second to Cest Si Bon in the 1982 Queen of the Turf Stakes when that race was Listed grade.
She did not leave a progeny record that we could locate and not much of her racing record has survived.
We hope that we find some better winners moving forward, but we will be skipping any that do not have any compelling reason to receive mention for this article.
The 1983 winner was Kalimna Queen and she continues the pattern of obscure winners and her lines were mainly anonymous, save for some ties to a couple of better U.S. sires named Raise A Native and Native Dancer. She did have a couple of Group 3 wins in 1984 in the Frances Tressady Stakes and the MRC Victoria Handicap.
She supplied for foals, three by Noalcoholic and one by Rancho Ruler between 1987 and 1992, but nothing notable. One, Storm Spirit, a 1993 filly, made 15 jumps, won two and placed in three races, but only managed to win $5,400, something we would not have thought possible, even in 1983.
The 1986 winner, Deedle, was another that managed to add the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes to her wins. She had the best pedigree we have seen to this point, but again, it was mostly northern hemisphere blood from the likes of sire Lord Of The Dance, grandsire Nijinsky and great grandsire Northern Dancer, both Canadian sires, while the Australians on the side of dam Geometry were mainly unknown.
We have a Group 1 winner in the form of the 1988 Sunline Stakes winner, Bianco Flyer.
She won five races, with the big win coming in the 1987 Group 1 Thousand Guineas. In 1988, she ran third in the Group 1 Australian Oaks. She collected $281,000 for her racing efforts.
She supplied six foals, but nothing of note.
A familiar name came along in the 1989 winner, Boardwalk Angel.
She was by Bletchingly, so we have our obligatory mention of Star Kingdom three generations back. She had a Group 1 win in the SAJC Goodwood Handicap, with a win in the 1989 Group 2 Linlithgow Stakes, where she finished in front of the much better Redelva.
Boardwalk Angel had nine wins in all and earned $415,000.
After racing, she would be served by better stallions, including Zabeel, Last Tycoon and Flying Spur. Her best was a 1997 colt named The Big Ask by Bigstone that won 11 races and over $370,000.
In 1991, the first year the Sunline Stakes was a Group 3 race, Rockets Galore was the winner.
Her other major win was the Group 3 Herald Sun Vase, also at The Valley, in 1990.
The 1992 winner was Acushla Marie.
Perhaps it is an indication that raising the grade of the race attracted some better types. Acushla Marie made 34 jumps, winning 11 and placing in 6 for $421,000. She won the Group 1 Winfield Classic, the race known today as the Coolmore Classic.
A familiar name appeared in the 1993 winner, Excited Angel.
She was a racing mare through and through, with 61 jumps for 12 wins and 16 placings – good for over $811,000.
She was a productive dam after racing, if it is possible to say so of a mare that made so many jumps. She was served by better stallions, including Lonhro, Danehill, Commands, Octagonal, Canny Lad and Exceed And Excel. Her best was a 1996 colt by Danehill named Aquiver that won over $485,000.
Not Related was a better type that won the Sunline Stakes in 1994.
In addition to winning this race and others frequently tried and won by winners of the Sunline Stakes, she won the 1991 Group 1 Sires’ Produce Stakes, so she came into the race with known form. She beat the good galloper Umatilla by almost four lengths for that win.
Not Related left a form line of 51 jumps for 12 wins and 11 placings for $559,000.
She supplied eight foals, but nothing exceptional.
The 1995 winner was Snap.
She made 29 jumps for 11 wins and 5 placings, beating Seascay in the Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes, a Group 1 New Zealand race, in 1993 and she crossed ahead of Veandercross in the 1994 Group 2 Enerco Stakes. She was a productive dam, with nine named foals, but none of those, despite sires such as Zabeel, Octagonal and Tavistock, were good racers.
The first year the Sunline Stakes was a Group 2 race, in 1996, the winners was Suma Peace. She was unexceptional as a racer and a breeder.
Her win in the Sunline Stakes, then known as the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, came over the good racer Chlorophyll, winner of the 1996 Group 1 Coolmore Classic.
Her best offspring was a 2008 filly named Cute Emily by Choisir that won a bit above $180,000.
The 1999 winner, Vonanne, won 10 times and earned $480,000.
One of her seven offspring, a 2004 colt by Carnegie, won a little above $300,000 in New Zealand dollars.
Arguably, the best winner to this stage in the history of the Sunline Stakes, Rose O’ War earned $891,000 from 26 jumps for seven wins and six placings.
If you can believe it, when she won the Group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes in 1999, she beat Sunline by half a length. She concluded her racing career in 2000 with a win in the Group 2 Crawford Stakes at Moonee.
She produced nine fillies and two colts, but all were lightly raced and lightly compensated for horse racing tips.
The 2001 winner, Flushed, was a modest racer, but she earned $316,000 from her 22 jumps for six wins and five placings.
While she supplied 11 named foals to stallions such as Fastnet Rock, Exceed And Excel, Fiorente, Zabeel and Encosta De Lago, none of those better sires was able to get much out of her.
We are now jumping forward due to length requirements, so we will move ahead to 2012 and 2013, the only years the Sunline Stakes supplied a dual winner.
That winner was Spirit Song.
She had what we might describe as an eclectic pedigree.
Her sire was Invincible Spirit, with lines to U.S. sires Green Desert and Danzig, with a connection to the great Canadian sire Northern Dancer.
Spirit Song’s dam was Lightning Rules, so that side of the chart includes, Rose of Kingston, Military Plume and Secretariat, the U.S. Triple Crown winner.
She made 33 jumps for 8 wins and 11 placings for $729,000 without a Group 1 win and only one placing in the Toorak Handicap.
She left no progeny record.
We had to stop for a look at the 2016 winner, Miss Rose De Lago.
She was by Encosta De Lago of course and she was good by the pattern we have observed for the winners of the Sunline Stakes.
She made 35 jumps for 9 wins and 10 placings and collected prizemoney of $927,000. That sort of money is nothing fabulous in 2016 terms, but we suspect it is the top figure to this stage in the history of the race.
Miss Rose De Lago was of mostly northern hemisphere lines beyond her sire and her sire’s dam Shoal Creek.
She was unsuccessful at passing along her good lines – just three foals for almost nothing in wins or stakes.
The 2022 winner was Shout The Bar and we believe that she is the only winner we found that earned above $1 million. She was by Not A Single Doubt from a New Zealand mare named Drinks All Round.
She made just 19 jumps for five wins and two placings to earn $1.3 million. She had the benefit of winning the Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes and the Group 1 Storm Queen Stakes (Vinery Stud Stakes) after those races had made it to Group 1 grade. Her win in the Storm Queen Stakes was over Probabeel.
We came away with the impression that the Sunline Stakes is a club for New Zealand fillies and mares with U.S. sires.
The race has featured smaller fields and as the only dual winner was Spirit Song, we were alert to learn how other winners did in subsequent or previous tries, but the only one certain one we found was 2021 winner Quantum Mechanic that was nowhere near 2022’s Shout The Bar.
Sunline Stakes Past Winners
|2022||Shout The Bar|
|2017||I Am A Star|
|2016||Miss Rose De Lago|
|2007||Like It Is|
|2000||Rose O' War|
|1997||Prefer An Angel|
|1984||Special To Me|