The Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate is a 1000-metre sprint for two-year-olds that is run at set weights at Flemington during the spring carnival.
Fillies carry 55 kilograms while the colts and geldings are given 57 kg.
Maribyrnong Plate Race Details
Race Distance: 1000m
Prize Money: $200,000
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When Is The Maribyrnong Plate: 5/11/24
What Time Is The Maribyrnong Plate: TBA
Where Is The Maribyrnong Plate: Flemington Racecourse
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More Details About The Maribyrnong Plate
Prizemoney for the race as of 2022 is $200,000.
The 2021 jump of the race was won by Brereton, an elite colt by Zoustar. It was his second race and while he showed some early promise, his only placing since then has been a third in the Eagle Farm version of the Sires’ Produce, a Group 2 race held in autumn.
Brereton earned $120,000 for the victory.
History of the Maribyrnong Plate
The Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate is one of the races staged at the meeting that features the Melbourne Cup. It was the first race of the meeting in 2021 and Brereton was the co-favourite.
The Maribyrnong Plate has not always been on the meeting card with the Melbourne Cup. Prior to 1995, the race was held on Victoria Derby Day. The VRC held it on Victoria Derby Day again in 2007 and 2008.
Victorian races are often shifted around the calendar for reasons best left to the MRC and the VRC to explain.
It has also been run on Victoria Oaks Day, so those two bodies might need to do some extra ‘splainin.
The name is taken from the river that runs along the back straight, the river that flooded the racetrack in 1974 and 2014. A flood control wall was built to protect the track and some residents of Maribyrnong blame that wall with channeling the river away from the track and causing the 2022 flooding in the residential section to be worse than it otherwise would have been.
The Maribyrnong Plate has a long history. The first jump was in 1871 and the only time the race resulted in a dead heat was in 1880, when Lavinia and Welcome Jack shared the win.
Some of the better types have won the race. There was a three-year stretch in the late 60s that supplied Biscay (1967), Vain (1968) and Baguette (1969), horses that left their marks on Thoroughbred racing both on the track and as breeders.
The Maribyrnong Plate has always been 1000 metres in length, with allowances given for the slight difference between 1000 metres and five furlongs. There were exceptions in 1994, when the race was stretched to 1200 metres and 1995, when the trip was 1100 metres.
The race grade was Principal grade until the Group classification system came along in 1979 and made the race a Group 2 event from 1979 through 2004.
It was demoted to Group 3 in 2005, where it remains to this day.
Venue for the Maribyrnong Plate
Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne is one of the most famous racetracks in the world. Racing was being held at the site from around 1840, as alluvial flats along a river supply prime racing terrain.
Flemington is famous for the Melbourne Cup – The Race That Stops A Nation – even though that promotion might be saturated with hyperbole, as outside of Melbourne, not much of anything stops.
For a 1000-metre event such as the Maribyrnong Plate, horses use the long straight chute known as the Flemington “Straight Six,” a reference to the old days when a six-furlong race, and now a 1200-metre race, can be run without requiring any turns to be negotiated. There is not a lot of strategy involved – the plan is to run fast in a straight line and hope you are the fastest.
Racing History of the Maribyrnong Plate
Even though the Maribyrnong Plate has a long history, many of the winners from the early years drifted into obscurity.
For our purposes, we intend to examine which of the two-year-old winners of the race amounted to something later in their careers. Australian racing history is rife with examples of two-year-olds that were hailed as the second coming of Phar Lap only to fade as they got older. The opposite is true as well, that horses that did not have good success as a two-year-old improved with age.
Since we have, for today at least, access to good racing statistics from the most recent jumps of the race, we will start with recent years and work our ways back in time to look for major champions, Group 1 winners and horses that have contributed to the gene pool.
Finance Tycoon won the race in 2020.
If the tycoon part of that name leaves any doubt, we will remove it by reporting that the sire of the 2020 winner was indeed Written Tycoon.
Finance Tycoon foaled in 2018 and is now retired to stud duty. He had to race just 10 times for four wins and two placings. He won just under $1 million. The bulk of those earnings, over half, came from the win in the 2021 Vobis Showdown, a 1200-metre race that he won by over four lengths as the favourite. Another Group 3 win came via the Zeditave Stakes at Caulfield and the other was a colts and geldings handicap at Gold Coast. Two Group 1 jumps, the Newmarket Handicap (final race, finished 13th of 17 and was retired) and the Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield did not result in a placing.
The 2019 winner was Hard Landing. He is a gelding foaled in 2017 by All Too Hard from Snitzerland. The pedigree suggests greatness, but the results to date suggest otherwise. Nineteen jumps have produced just two wins, the other being a 2020 colts and geldings win at Moonee Valley.
I Am Invincible supplied a filly that won the race in 2018.
Her name was Vinicunca and unlike her sire, she was truly vincible, as the Maribyrnong Plate was her only win from five jumps. She managed to run second in the Group 2 Blue Diamond Prelude at Caulfield in 2019, but her try at the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield found her well back in eighth.
We have been skipping back, as the winners we found were seldom winning more than their price at the auctions, until we arrived at Boomwaa, the winner in 2013 that won above $570,000, but only because they raced him until his legs fell off. He won nothing of note, but he did make 67 jumps for 7 minor wins and 23 placings.
We found an elite galloper when we went back to 1998 and found the name of Testa Rossa.
He was one of those that cause us to ask what a galloper of this quality was doing in this race. Of course, not even his connections knew with certainty what Testa Ross would become, but that is part of the allure of juvenile races.
Testa Rossa won over $3 million from 28 jumps for 13 wins and 3 placings. He won his first race, followed by the Maribyrnong Plate, a handicap at Randwick and then the big prize, the decisive four-length win in the 1999 Magic Millions at Gold Coast. He ran second to Redoute’s Choice in the 1999 Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes, and then posted a convincing win in the Group 1 Sires’ Produce Stakes at Flemington. Another Group 1 win at the expense of Redoute’s Choice came in the Vic Health Cup. Next up, he granted Redoute’s Choice a measure of revenge when he ran second in the 1999 Group 1 Caulfield Guineas.
A jump in the Cox Plate proved he was no match for Sunline on that day, but two Group 1 wins were not long in coming with the Lightning Stakes and the Futurity Stakes. Two subsequent wins were enough to persuade his connections to try him at Sha Tin and Tokyo, but he could not win there.
Testa Rossa was a prodigious sire.
We counted four offspring that won above a million dollars, the best being a 2006 gelding out of Wingin A Prayer that won more than $2.2 million. More than we cared to count won high six-figure incomes and there were many that won in the $500,000 neighbourhood.
The immediate predecessor to Testa Rossa was a mare named Catnipped. She earned almost three quarters of a million dollars, racing just 12 times for 3 wins and 3 placings.
Catnipped backed her 1997 Maribyrnong Plate wins with a win in the 2YO Magic Million Prelude, and then took the Magic Million 2YO. She cooled considerably after that, finishing almost last in the Group 1 Blue Diamond at Caulfield. She then spent the balance of her career in Listed grade and below races.
At stud, she supplied some decent offspring, the best a 2000 gelding named Fangio that was sired by Danehill. She also consorted with Choisir, Redoute’s Choice and others, but those matches produced little.
The 1989 winner was a good one.
It was Canny Lad, a horse by Bletchingly – Biscay – Star Kingdom, that won over $2 million from 15 jumps for 8 wins and 3 placings. He won six of seven starts as a two-year-old. His big Group 1 wins came in the Golden Slipper Stakes and the Sires’ Produce Stakes.
Canny Lad had a way with the ladies following his racing days.
His offspring have raced and won around the world with stakes winners ranging from $1.5 million and spanning the range down to the modest earners. What is truly remarkable when the list of Canny Lad offspring is examined is the remarkable percentage that won some money, and the small number that did not race or make any money.
The 1978 winner, Star Shower, only made five jumps, but he won all five. A Group 1 win in the Blue Diamond Stakes was his racing highlight.
His stud career, in contrast to Canny Lad’s was far from as distinguished and only a few of his progeny race and won money, but scarce little in light of an elite pedigree including grandsire Star Kingdom, Hyperion and Gainsborough.
If Testa Rossa winning in 1998 led us to ask, what he was doing in the race, what could we say about a remarkable three year patch that began with Biscay in 1967, included Vain in 1968 and concluded with Baguette in 1969?
For three years running, some of the best two-year-olds in the country came to Flemington for the lowly Maribyrnong Plate.
The son of Star Kingdom, Biscay raced just eight times for six wins. His wins were nothing exceptional, with the Maribyrnong Plate the Debutant Stakes and the Merson Cooper Stakes being the best.
He was sire to Bletchingly that in turn sired Kingston Town. Biscay was deemed a leading sire in Australia on multiple occasions and was sire to, amongst others, Marscay, Zephyr Bay and six-time Group 1 winner Bounding Away. Biscay was responsible for more than 300 winners that collectively earned more than $5.5 million.
As for Vain, his 14 jumps resulted in 12 wins and 2 placings. His 1968 win in the Maribyrnong Plate was followed in 1969 by wins in the Sires’ Produce Stakes, the Golden Slipper Stakes and the Champagne Stakes, along with six other major wins in 1969.
Vain was a good sire, although anything following Biscay is certain to look paltry by comparison. Vain sired two Golden Slipper Stakes winners in Sire Dapper and Inspired. Kenmark and Mistress Anne both won at Group 1 level and Vain will be remembered as the Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year for the 1969/70 season. He was named Leading Sire in Australia for 1983/84.
Baguette was undefeated as a two-year-old, winning the AJC Breeders’ Plate, the STC Silver Slipper Stakes to go along with his Maribyrnong Plate win. He compiled a record of 15 wins and 11 placings from 31 jumps. Several of his progeny won major races, including Dark Eclipse and Romantic Dream.
Finally, from the way-back category, we have 1895’s Newhaven. He would improve from the Maribyrnong Plate in 1895 to major wins in the Spring Stakes, Craven Plate, Ascot Vale Stakes and the Victoria Derby.
His final win in 1896 was the Melbourne Cup by six lengths as a three-year-old carrying record weight for his age.
After 26 jumps in Australia, he went to England for 13 races, winning for times for a combined record of 39 jumps for 19 wins and 10 placings.
With its long history as a fixture of the important spring races in Victoria, the Maribyrnong Plate has launched the careers of more than a few notable two-year-olds that then went on to win major races and to sire good offspring.
The race has suffered a lack of attention, given that it is run at meetings featuring some of the most important races on the calendar, but for those who appreciate the juvenile gallopers, it is a lovely race.
Maribyrnong Plate Past Winners
|2008||Our Joan Of Arc|
|1996||Lady Of The Pines|
|1990||Raise A Rhythm|
|1958||Fine And Dandy|
|1902||Duke Of Grafton|
|1892||The Sailor Prince|
|1874||Maid Of All Work|