The Wakeful Stakes is a Group 2 staying race of 2,000 metres run at Flemington Racecourse under set weight plus penalty conditions by three-year-old fillies.
It is held on Victoria Derby Day, one of the best Thoroughbred race meetings of the year, or certainly during the spring racing season.
As of 2020, the Wakeful Stakes offers $300,000 in prizemoney.
History of the Wakeful Stakes
The race is named after a mare named Wakeful. She was foaled in 1896 that won a slew of races in Victoria and NSW. She made 44 jumps for 25 wins and 16 placings, so she is more than qualified under Victorian standards to have a race named for her. She was second in the 1903 Melbourne Cup despite spotting winner Lord Cardigan almost 22 kilograms. She won the race now known as the LKS Mackinnon Stakes three times.
The Wakeful Stakes was first run in 1932, long after Wakeful had retired from the track. It has always been called the Wakeful Stakes. The VRC ran the Wakeful and the Mackinnon on the same day prior to 2016.
From the first year through 1953, the race was a mile in length and from 1968 through 1971, the race was run over 1-1/4 miles. That is approximately the same distance as the 2000 metres, which came about when the metric system was adopted.
It was considered a Principal race from debut through 1978. The advent of the Group race classification system made it a Group 2 race from 1979 forward.
The Wakeful Stakes is considered the lead up for the Group 1 VRC Oaks, which is held just five days later, two days after the Melbourne Cup, ever since 2016.
There appears to be plenty of fillies wanting to try the race, so much so that it was run in divisions on three occasions, in 1947, 1973 and 1975.
Race Venue of the Wakeful Stakes
The race is and always has been held at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. As a 2000-metre trip, the Wakeful Stakes begins right alongside the river, runs the giant curve that is a key feature of Flemington and finishes in front of the grandstands, so that the horses do not have to negotiate the tight turns at the east end of the course.
An inside barrier draw is helpful for the Wakeful Stakes, as horses on the outside of the sweeping turn on the west side of the course will be running something like 2200-metres to make the trip.
A more through look at Flemington Racecourse can be found on our web page.
Racing History of the Wakeful Stakes
We found it fascinating that so many three-year-old fillies have won the Wakeful Stakes, and then gone on to win the VRC Oaks five days later.
It was not unusual for horses to race more frequently in the early days of the race, but in the modern era, horses seldom race on less than a fortnight’s rest. True, the Lexus Hotham Stakes grants a ballot exemption to the winner for the Melbourne Cup and 11 winners of the race have won the Melbourne Cup after winning the Hotham Handicap, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
For 36 Wakeful Stakes winners to win the prestigious VRC Oaks with such short rest is remarkable. It is equally remarkable, given what we have noted about rests between races, that the Wakeful – Oaks double has been filled as recently as 2013 by Kirramosa, along with four others since the start of the 21st century.
If anyone from 1932 were waiting for a Wakeful – Oaks double, the wait was a short one. The first Wakeful winner was Protea and she promptly added the Oaks. Those are the two races for which she was credited, but we suspect she won more.
A second Wakeful – Oaks double was added in 1933, when Golden Hair won the Wakeful Stakes. Historical record indicate that the Oaks was her best win, but those same records indicate she won an additional five races beyond the double.
The next winner was Arachne in 1934. It appears that she won nine races. She did not fill the double, but she did win the 1934 Ascot Vale Stakes as a two-year-old and the 1935 Oakleigh Plate.
Siren, the 1936 winner, was the next to fill the double, but little beyond those two wins survives her by our sources.
There was a double in 193 courtesy of Prairie Moon.
It happened again in 1940, this time by Session.
It would appear that the emerging pattern of the better horses winning the Wakeful Stakes is well established, so we are leaping to 1943’s Three Wheeler. She had another major win from the 1945 Newmarket Handicap.
The first truly significant winner in our view was 1944’s Rainbird. No, she did not fill the Wakeful – Oaks double. She went one better by winning the 1945 Melbourne Cup over 25 other horses and she produced seconds in the 1945 Caulfield Cup and the 1947 Sydney Cup.
Sweet Chime filled the double in 1946 and added the AJC Adrian Knox Stakes the following year.
Just as there was a baby boom of people following World War II, there were a lot of fillies looking for races in 1947. The race was run in two divisions. One went to Nizam’s Ring that also filled the Wakeful – Oaks double. The other division was won by Jalna.
Beginning with Nizam’s Ring, the next three Wakeful Stakes produced the double. Best Bets for today.
It was Grey Nurse in 1948, followed by Chicquita in 1949 and True Course in 1950. Grey Nurse and Nizam’s Ring have a common sire, which was France’s Nizami.
Chicquita was quite the galloper. She was second to Comic Court in the 1950 Melbourne Cup. Comic Court’s time in the Cup set a record that lasted 18 years. We do not know the winning margin, but there is no disgrace in running second to a record that held for almost two decades.
True Course was also a good galloper that won many of the prestigious three-year-old races, including the AJC Champagne Stakes, the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes and the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes.
We know we risk neglecting good fillies, but we are moving ahead to 1955, when the Wakeful Stakes – VRC Oaks double belonged to Evening Peal. It appears as though she won any race with Oaks in the name, but her main claim to fame was winning the 1956 Melbourne Cup. She was just the seventh mare to win the Cup and just prior, she ran second to Redcraze in the Caulfield Cup. Oh, lest we forget, her time in the Melbourne Cup equaled the time of Comic Court from 1950.
The next Wakeful – VRC Oaks double belonged to Chicola in 1958. She won the Group 1 Adrian Knox Stakes the following year.
The name of Wenona Girl appears for the 1960 Wakeful Stakes win. It would be easy to think that if any filly were to produce the Wakeful – Oaks double, it would have been her, but it was not the case. The Oaks that year was won by Lady Sybil and we are not even sure if Wenona Girl tried the Oaks following the Wakeful win.
Indian Summer supplied another double in 1961 and she won several other races that would be classified as Group 1 when that system came into use.
Light Fingers was the 1964 winner, along with filling the double with the Oaks. She won the Melbourne Cup the following year and she did her sire, Le Filou, proud.
There was not another Wakeful – Oaks double until 1972, when Toltrice won both races. Like the others that filled the double, she was a good galloper with 14 wins to her credit from 31 jumps.
The Wakeful Stakes was again run in divisions in 1973. One division went to Love Aloft, while the other went to Just Topic. Neither of the two appears significant.
The next double came in 1974, courtesy of Leica Show. She was a highly competent sort that won quite a few major races and was declared the 1975 Champion Three-Year-Old Filly in Australia.
The Wakeful Stakes required division again in 1975, one going to How Now and the other to Calera. How Now was a better-than-average galloper; She won or placed well in six Group 1 races. She did not fill the double, unless we are granted some leeway in saying she did by winning not the VRC, but the AJC Oaks. Her best win was the 196 Caulfield Cup.
Calera does not appear as distinguished, but like how now, she was from the land of stayers, New Zealand.
Similar to 1946 – 1950, where the Wakeful – Oaks double was almost a foregone conclusion, the next three Wakeful Stakes winners won the Oaks.
They were Scomeld (1978), Brava Jeannie (1979) and November Rain (1980) - TattsBet Merges, read more here
Scomeld was trained by Bart Cummings for a time. She won multiple major races. Brava Jeannie was possibly not so competent, but she was a grey, so we like her. November Rain is credited with four other wins, but it appears that there was none that would be viewed as significant.
The double was next completed by Diamond Shower in 1986. She made 17 jumps for seven wins and eight placings, unplaced in only two races. Her other major win alongside the VRC Oaks was the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes. She had placings in four other Group 1, 2 and 3 races and earned over half a million dollars when that was a lot of money.
The name of Research joins the list of Wakeful – Oaks doubles in 1988. She is the only filly to date to AJC Derby – AJC Oaks double. She was Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year in 1989 and she won over $1.8 million in her career. Her other major wins were the Furious Stakes, the Flight Stakes and the Storm Queen Stakes.
The next year, 1989, produced another double by Tristanagh. She was head of the class for fillies for the 1989 – 1990 season. She won seven races as a two-year-old and other races as well, including the Group 1 VATC Thousand Guineas. She won 1000-metre sprints and she won out to 2500 metres.
It only required until 1991 for the next Wakeful – VRC Oaks double, and that was supplied by Richfield Lady. Like many of the others, she was a New Zealand product, but even though she was from the modern era, we did not find mention of her from any of our sources.
Next, it was Arborea in 1993 filling the double. Like Tristanagh, she won the VATC Thousand Guineas. In her VRC Oaks win, she beat a filly named Oaks Day handily, which should serve as a warning to all those who have the privilege of naming horses to avoid hyperbole.
The next four years produced three Wakeful – VRC Oaks doubles.
It was Saleous in 1995, Kensington Palace in 1997 and Grand Archway in 1998.
Saleous would provide a third consecutive win next up when she won the Vanity Stakes. She ran second to the gelding Zuccherino on four occasions and she was often well placed in races with the likes of Doriemus and Octagonal. There was a period of time from October 1995 through March of 1996 where she won or finished close second in major races.
Kensington Palace won over $1.1 million by winning four and placing six times. Her other major win was the 1998 MVRC Moonee Valley Oaks, where she beat the New Zealand Champion Champagne that rant second to Jezabeel in the 1998 Melbourne Cup.
Grand Archway may have been the best of the lot, although there is some subjectivity to that claim. She won four Group 1 races. Her Wakeful Stakes win came over Rose O’ War that she also beat when she filled the Wakeful – Oaks double. She was second to Sunline in the 1999 Moonee Valley Oaks, which provides some insight as to Grand Archway’s ability.
Probably the longest span without a Wakeful – Oaks double was from 1999 through 2003, when it was not until Hollow Bullet won the Wakeful Stakes in 2004.
The winner in 2004 was Hollow Bullet that won over $1.4 million from 27 jumps for six wins and seven placings.
There was another double in 2005 thanks to Serenade Rose. She was a great galloper that had another big win in the 2006 AJC Oaks.
It was Faint Perfume winning both races in 2009. Like some of the other Wakeful Stakes winners, Faint Perfume won the Group 1 Storm Queen Stakes.
The 2010 winner and double filler was Brazilian Pulse, punters were not surprised.
Yet another New Zealander, Brazilian Pulse won, placed second, or third in her first nine races. She raced just 13 times, but managed to take in over $1.1 million.
The 2011 winner, Atlantic Jewel, did not win the VRC Oaks, but she won over $1.5 million from just 11 races, where she won 10 and finished second once. She had to spell for a considerable period due to an injury. Her win in the 2011 Group 1 Thousand Guineas was by four lengths over four time Group 1 winner Mosheen.
Atlantic Jewel won the All Aged Stakes in 2012 and the Memsie Stakes in 2013, just to supply some insight into her ability.
Kirramosa in 2013 was the next to last horse to complete the Wakeful – VRC Oaks double. She will probably be the last, now that the two races are so close together. She was okay, not great and she was sent to Japan in 2015, not that there is anything wrong with that.
The next and most recent filly to fill the Wakeful Stakes – VRC Oaks double was 2018’s Aristia. She is retired now and after her Oaks win, she never won again, even though they gave her 19 more starts.
Miami Bound from 2019 also won the Oaks, so she, along with Aristia, are the first two to fill the Wakeful – Oaks double since the Wakeful was moved to its current slot on the calendar in 2016.
The Wakeful Stakes, although a Group 2 race, has supplied many notable winners as the race was viewed as the lead up to the VRC Crown Oaks.
Since it is now run on Derby Day, five days before the VRC Oaks, it is unlikely that any filly will win both races, but the remarkable number that did win both in the earlier years is something seldom seen.
|Year||Wakeful Stakes Winners|
|1994||Dream Of The Dance|
|1992||Love Comes To Town|
|1985||Heat Of The Moment|