The race was first held as a Principal race over 5 furlongs at Randwick in 1968 when it was won by a horse called Academy Star. With the introduction of the metric system the distance became 1000m in 1972 and it remained at that distance up to 2005, apart from 2001 when it was run over 870 metres and the race had its first (and only) dead-heat between Pastime and Strabane. It was held as a Listed Race from 1978 to 2017 and in 2006 the distance was increased to 1100m, then in 2017 it was increased again to the current 1200m distance. In 2018 it was upgraded to a Group 3 Race. It has always been held at Randwick apart from 1983 when it was ran at Warwick Farm.
It was originally called the City Tattersall’s Lightning Handicap but was renamed the Sydney Stakes in 2017 when the distance was increased. The Everest, Australia’s richest prizemoney race, was introduced in 2017 at the same course and distance and is held on the same day. Since then the Sydney Stakes has effectively become a consolation sprint for the horses that didn’t secure a spot in The Everest. In 2018 Pierata won this race in a quicker time than Redzel won The Everest in.