Morphettville Racecourse in South Australia is home to the Group 3 Auraria Stakes, an 1800 metre test of three-year-old fillies run under set weight plus penalty conditions each April.
Those who appreciate prize money in round chunks might be offput by the Auraria Stakes prize pool of $127,250. First place is worth $68,975 as of 2023, but the allure to send the SAJC $750 for the sight of seeing the figure rounded up to $128,000 even.
Auraria Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1800m
Prize Money: $127,250
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When Is The Auraria Stakes: 20/4/24
What Time Is The Auraria Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Auraria Stakes: Morphettville Racecourse
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More Details about the Auraria Stakes
First place went to Jennilala in 2023.
She is listed as active, although she has not raced since April of 2023 when she concluded a stretch of racing that saw her make five jumps in 2023 to place in four, including third place in the Group 1 Australasian Oaks in SA.
Her form to date is seven jumps for two wins and three placings for $173,570 in earnings.
The Auraria Stakes is one of three fillies and mare races during the autumn carnival at Morphettville. The others are the Group 1 Australasian Oaks (2000 m) and the Group 1 South Australian Oaks, so the three-year-old fillies face an escalating middle-distance challenge.
History of the Auraria Stakes
The race made its debut in 1944 and has jumped continuously except for skipping 1983.
When Auraria Stakes has held sway of the race name, it was to honour of the 1895 Melbourne Cup winner by that name.
To say that key elements of the Auraria Stakes have changed over the years runs the risk of understatement.
The name has vacillated between Auraria Stakes (1944 – 1998), Lakewood Stud Stakes (1999 – 2005)), Auraria Stakes (2006 - 2010) Schweppervescence Stakes (2011 – 2020 / no longer, thank god), and then back to the Auraria Stakes since 2021.
Disregarding the old Imperial measuring system for the metric, the race was originally 1600 metres, growing to 1700 metres in 1946. It was first run at 1800 metres in 1960 and has stayed within a few metres of 1800 for the entire time.
It has been all over the Adelaide area. The first jump was at Morphettville. The race then spent 1945 – 1980 at Cheltenham Park.
It moved to Victoria Park in 1981 before another stint at Morphettville, this one lasting from 1985 – 1992. A return to Victoria Park lasted for the next four jumps, and then back to Cheltenham for five jumps…you get the picture. The last jump at Victoria Park was 1996 and the last at Cheltenham 2008.
Victoria Park ceased operations in 2008 and Cheltenham followed in 2009.
We would say the race is rooted in Morphettville since 2009, but there could be a new track built…
The race grade is simpler.
Principal from 1944 through 1979; Group 3 status from 1980.
Venue for the Auraria Stakes
Morphettville Racecourse is about 10 km from the CBD of Adelaide, South Australia.
It is a tri-oval track similar to Flemington but with less severe turns.
Racing has been going on since 1876, although other venues nearby held racing as early or earlier than 1859.
Morphettville has four Group 1 races per year. Those are the Australasian Oaks, The Goodwood, the Robert Sangster Stakes and the South Australian Derby. There are four Group 2 and nine Group 3 races annually, but all of the Group 1s go off in April.
For an 1800 metre race such as the Auraria Stakes, a starting chute leading onto the back straight is where the barriers are erected. The racers navigate two turns before turning for the finish line at the northwest end of the course.
Racing History of the Auraria Stakes
As usual for an age-restricted fillies race, we will look at the past winners to search out any better types that won better races, beat better horses, earned substantial prize money and contributed progeny to racing. Initial glances at the winners’ list do not reveal any names that jump out, which is to be expected of a race of this calibre. With so many sex and age restricted races from which to choose, connections with the better types aim their galloper’s campaigns at richer races.
The winner of the first Auraria Stakes in 1944 was Chariot.
Other than winning this race, we could not locate much information about her. She delivered five foals by a sire named Star Of Baroda, a Brit stallion that won one race in England and was thus determined worthy of spreading his DNA to the southern hemisphere. None of Chariot’s seven offspring were accomplished racers.
As the Auraria Stakes remained a Principal race until 1980, we have chosen to mention a few at random from the era prior to the race receiving Group 3 classification.
The first of these is the 1951 winner Gay Comedy.
She did well for a South Australian racer. Other wins were the South Australian Oaks. She won the South Australian St. Leger Stakes the following year. Her stud record reports just one filly named May Comedy.
Everest Victory from 1954 deserved a look, although it would not be until 2017 when Everest victory gained its current significance. Mount Everest was summitted by British explorer Edmund Hillary in 1953. This supposed first summit was viewed with awe at the time, so it is no surprise that a horse was named Everest Victory. There might even have been some babies named Everest Victory.
To gain some perspective on Everest Victory, all we need do is report that other than her dam Bright Spear, her previous ancestors on that side of the table were nameless. The sire, High Peak, came from strong lines with Hyperion for sire, Gainsborough for grand sire adding lines to Bayardo and Bay Ronald.
A better sort was the 1959 winner Mintaway.
Her racing in 1959 supplied additional wins in the Edward Manifold Stakes and the VRC Oaks Stakes. She added the A.V. Kewney Stakes the following year. She is credited with two fillies by a sire named Daybreak; one of those was a minor winner.
Continuing forward in the history of the Auraria Stakes, we found the 1970 winner Rain Amore piquing our interest.
We were hoping for some connection to Rain Lover. We did not find it, but Rain Amore was a South Australian racer that won the South Australian Oaks, although it was years before that race would qualify as a Group 1 event.
After racing, she supplied four fillies and one colt. The 1979 filly More Rain by Brave Lad added some class to the pedigree table as a racer and as a breeder.
How could we overlook the name Yaraandoo?
She was a Kiwi, but other than that and the win in the Auraria Stakes in 1975, the name is really all we have. Her stud output was one filly that did not accomplish much.
The winner in the first year that the Auraria Stakes was contested at Group 3 grade, the winner was Kaupo. She was northern hemisphere bred on the side of her sire Zooming Zone, a U.S. stallion. The win in the Auraria Stakes is what she left to us, as we found no record of offspring.
The 1981 winner Sheraco, on the other hand, was better than most of the previous winners. Another win that same year was the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes. Her 1982 campaigns found her winning the Group 1 AJC Oaks, the Group 2 Rosemount Wines Classic and the Group 2 AJC Expressway Stakes. Her stud output of four were all colts, three by the good sire Sir Tristam, but none that left any lasting racing impression.
Moving ahead to 1991, Shavano Miss was a better type to win the Auraria Stakes. She won the Group 2 Southwark Premium Classic in 1991 and 1992. She was third to 1991 Melbourne Cup winner Let’s Elope in the 1992 Group 2 St. George Stakes.
She was a productive broodmare after she concluded her racing career. She supplied five colts and three fillies, including one by the horse that beat her for second in the 1992 St. George Stakes, Dr. Grace, that got Graceful Encounter out of her. That racer won above $230,000. Her best colt was Gold Class by Flying Spur. Gold Class won over $267,000.
The 1995 winner interested us because she was something that we often seek for ourselves – Tranquility.
Like many previous winners of the Auraria Stakes, Tranquility presented northern hemisphere lines on the side of her French sire Bellweather, while her dam Starversity was Aussie for the most part, including Star Kingdom, if we might be permitted to claim his influence four generations back. A better run by Tranquility was perhaps in 1995 when she was second to Yelgun Dawn in the Australasian Oaks.
The 1996 winner, Miss Margaret by Marscay, won above $557,000 from 20 jumps for 8 wins and 6 placings.
Miss Margaret was good at Oaks. She won the Group 1 South Australian Oaks, also in 1996 and she was second to Leica Smile in the Australasian Oaks. She won the Group 1 Chrysler Stakes (VRC Champions Mile).
She was a solid breeder, too, with 10 named foals. The best was Ambitious Leader by Bluebird that won nearly half a million dollars. Two others each earned in excess of $200,000 and one other earned $150,000.
The winner from 1997 was Exalted Miss.
She represents the idea that applies to many Auraria Stakes winners, that being that some of these fillies did far more in the sheds than they did on the turf. The Auraria Stakes was her only significant win, but she backed that with 12 named foals, all of them being Exalted something or other for their names. Her best was the 2001 gelding by Blevic named Exalted Ego that managed to win just under $550,000.
The 1999 winner Episode was the winner of over $618,000 from her 25 jumps. She had six wins and six placings. She won three Group 1 races that same year, with wins in the Australasian Oaks, the South Australian Oaks, with a second to Miss Danehill in the 1999 Group 1 Queensland Oaks. She was served by Redoute’s Choice for her only listed foal.
The 2010 winner Fairy Oak was modest racer of six jumps for two wins and two placings. Her other win was on a country track.
Once again, an Auraria Stakes winner proved to be a better breeder than racer, as Savvy Oak, a 2015 gelding by Savabeel, earned over $420,000.
A good one appeared when we got to 2017, the year the winner was Kenedna.
A 2013 filly by Not A Single Doubt out of Miss Dodwell, Kenedna won above 042.1 million from 30 jumps for 10 wins and 7 placings.
She beat Dixie Blossoms and Unforgotten to win the Group 1 Coolmore Legacy Stakes in 2019. She also posted a Group 1 win in the 2019 Doomben Cup. She won at Group 2 grade twice and Group 3 once.
She did not pass on her racing DNA.
Sopressa was the winner in 2018.
Her Group 1 win was the 2018 Australasian Oaks, part of her racing career of 30 jumps for four wins and nine placings. She earned about $700,000. She is now deceased.
The last we will examine at this time is the 2022 winner My Whisper.
Her sire was Great Britain’s Frankel, so My Whisper’s racing success is not unexpected. She is listed as active, last jumping in September 2023, where she was stone motherless in the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Stakes.
My Whisper, as of mid-October 2023, has managed to turn 14 jumps for six wins and one placing into $450,000.
It is hard to fault the Auraria Stakes. It jumps around the same time as the Championships at Randwick, so all the better fillies aged three years will be found racing in NSW and not South Australia.
The race has supplied some Group 1 winners and a few that have earned decent prize money.
Auraria Stakes Past Winners
|2014||Girl In Flight|
|2008||Moment In Time|
|1989||Our Libra Lady|