Stars emerge from first 2YO stakes races

Among the many pleasures of Spring racing, the prospect of watching each new crop begin to unfurl its talent has to rank highly.

In Sydney the season’s first 2YO stakes races, coming up at Randwick this Saturday, are a particular focus of anticipation.  The Listed status of the Breeders’ Plate (colts & geldings) and the Gimcrack Stakes (fillies), both first held in 1906, belies their considerable value as a guide to the best horses in each cohort.

The 72 winners and placegetters in the past 12 runnings of the two races include 42 horses that subsequently won at Listed level or better, with 32 (44.4%) of them succeeding in Group races.

Of these, 11 turned out to be Group 1 winners: the colts Capitalist, Charge Forward, Onemorenomore, Pierro, Prized Icon, Sebring, Vancouver (all at or heading to stud), the geldings Dance Hero & Mentality, and the fillies Guelph and Speak Fondly.

The better Group 1 record of the boys’ team extends to the overall figures: 25 vs 17 subsequent Listed winners or better and 19 vs 13 Group winners – despite the fact that none of the colts have raced beyond their 3YO seasons.

A colt’s prospective stallion career may account for the difference. Owners and trainers have an extra incentive to aim their best colts at the Breeders’ Plate because a win undoubtedly enhances a colt’s value and future appeal to breeders. The 2010 winner Smart Missile, who progressed to Group 2 success and a close second in the Golden Rose G1, is a good example. He proved instantly popular at stud and has been fully booked for his first five seasons. 

The early season 2YO  programme also has an impact. After the Gimcrack, there are only two more stakes races restricted to fillies before Christmas, neither of them in Sydney: the Ottawa Stakes G3 at Flemington on Cup Day, and the Calaway Gal S. LR at Doomben on 17 December.

The Sydney 2YO fillies-only stakes racing resumes with the Widden Stakes G3 in late January, followed by three Group 2 races (the Sweet Embrace, Reisling & Magic Night Stakes) leading into the Golden Slipper, and the $500,000 Percy Sykes S. G3  at The Championships in early April. Hence, the crop’s best 2YO fillies may not debut until November, December or January – English, Earthquake, Mossfun & Snitzerland are recent examples.

It’s worth taking note of the unplaced runners in the Gimcrack and Breeders’ Plate, too. Wandjina (7th in 2013), Dear Demi (4th in 2011) & Rena’s Lady (13th in 2005) all went on to Group 1 Classic success at three.

This year the Arrowfield roster has just one runner, the Mill Park-bred-and-sold sister to stakeswinner Modern Wonder in Grasslands (Snitzel-Elusive Wonder) for the Gimcrack, and five in the Breeders’ Plate, all but one of them Arrowfield sale graduates:

Bowerman (Snitzel-Sabanci by Encosta De Lago)
Bred by Arrowfield; Sold $525,000 Magic Millions to China Horse Club; trained by Michael Freedman for China Horse Club & Winstar. Sabanci, a half-sister to G1 winner Green Birdie from the family of Casino Prince and Onemorenomore, visits Snitzel again this season.

Condor Heroes (Not A Single Doubt-Gosetgo by More Than Ready)
Bred by Robrick Lodge & sold by Riversdale, $190,000 Magic Millions to Sun Bloodstock; trained by Gerald Ryan for Sun Bloodstock. Gosetgo is due to foal to Not A Single Doubt this Spring.

Invader (Snitzel-Flame of Sydney by Encosta De Lago)
Bred by Michael Pitt & sold by Arrowfield, $475,000 Magic Millions to China Horse Club; trained by Gerald Ryan for China Horse Club & partners. Flame of Sydney, dam of the classy Hong Kong sprinter Not Listenin’tome, has a yearling filly by Snitzel and is foaling to him again this season.

Misty Lad (Redoute’s Choice-Anadan by Anabaa)
Bred by Arrowfield & Planette Thoroughbred & sold by Arrowfield, $150,000 Inglis Premier to Mount Hallowell Stud; trained by Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott for Mount Hallowell & David Walpole. 
Anadan has a yearling filly by Snitzel & foaled a filly by Not A Single Doubt on 26 September; this year she visits Panzer Division.

Showtime (Snitzel-Flidais by Timber Country)
Bred & sold by Arrowfield, $1.1 million Magic Millions to Dean Hawthorne Bloodstock; trained by Team Hawkes for Arrowfield, Katsumi Yoshida, Alan Jones, Jonathan Munz, Eric Koundouris, John Moore & Greg Ingham.
Flidais has a yearling full brother to Showtime and his Group 1-winning sister Sweet Idea, recently foaled a Snitzel filly and is again booked to Snitzel.

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