From the archives:
T J Smith Stakes Preview & Tips 2020
Track: Slow Weather: Fine
There are 13 speed machines lining up for the $1,250,000 Darley T. J. Smith Stakes. Normally this race carries prizemoney of $2,500,000 but it has been halved for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Three runners had their last start in The Galaxy, three in the William Reid Stakes, three in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes and two in the Canterbury Stakes. The favourite is Nature Strip who has won 13 of his 22 starts and already has three Group 1 wins. He won the Challenge Stakes last start and has won a Randwick trial since. Second favourite is three-year-old colt Bivouac who won the Newmarket Handicap against the older horses before finishing 3rd in the William Red last time out. Third favouritism is shared between Santa Ana Lane who won this race last year, and filly Loving Gaby who won the William Reid last outing after 2nd in the Newmarket.
Pierata hit the line strongly when 5th in The Galaxy and is fitter now. Exceedance won the Coolmore Stud Stakes in the spring and has ran 6th in the Newmarket and William Reid this campaign. Redzel has had 2 runs this year for 2nd in the Black Caviar Lightning and 2nd in the Challenge Stakes. He was 2nd in this race in 2018 and has 3 wins at this track and distance and is always a threat. All other runners are currently 20 to 1 or longer.
T J Smith Stakes Runner by Runner 2020
1. Nature Strip
This Chris Waller trained gelding has been incredibly impressive in many of his races but doesn’t always seem to bring his A-game. He was fantastic leading all the way to win the Challenge Stakes by 3 lengths last start, but the start before he finished 4th as the odds-on favourite in the Black Caviar Lightning. He has the inside gate and if he’s got his mind on the job he can lead all the way again. He’s my pick here.
Last campaign this horse won two of his four starts and was a close 2nd in the Concorde Stakes. He has had one run form a spell for a fast-finishing 5th in The Galaxy and in five second-up runs has won twice and finished second the other three times. He handles all types of going and loves Randwick so he should give a good sight.
3. Santa Ana Lane
He hasn’t had a win since he raced away to win this race by 3.5 lengths last year, but he’s been runner-up a couple of times including in The Everest. He finished 4.7 lengths 6th in the Challenge Stakes when resuming but generally improves second-up and has a very strong finishing burst . It would be nice if he could win for two years in a row and it isn’t beyond this $80k purchase who has already won $7.5 million.
With statistics at Randwick of 9 wins and 6 places from 19 starts here you can never ignore this seven-year-old. He won the first two editions of The Everest at this track and distance, and has had 2 runs this year for 2nd in the Black Caviar Lightning and 2nd in the Challenge Stakes. His third-up runs are always good and he is certainly an each-way chance.
One of two runners for Godolphin (the other is Bivouac), this Street Cry gelding has 9 wins including a Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3. He won the 2019 Stradbroke and was 3rd in the 2019 Everest. He resumes here after 18 weeks and won a Randwick trial on 27 March. He generally runs on strongly from the rear of the field but may find some of these too speedy to catch.
From the same sire as Santa Ana Lane (Lope De Vega) this four-year-old has won 5 of his 11 starts. He likes to lead and fought on doggedly to hold on and win the Group 3 Star Kingdom Stakes last week, which was his first win at Group level. He is a nice type but might be outclassed in this field.
There are three colts by Exceed And Excel in this race (the others are Exceedance and Standout) and Bivouac seems a genuine chance to win this. He was impressive winning the Newmarket Handicap by 2.5 lengths on 7 March after jumping awkwardly, then ran 3rd behind Loving Gaby in the William Reid Stakes. I am discounting that run as the combination of the tight Moonee Valley track and racing under lights can be tricky for young horses. If you can get an each-way price then take it.
8. In Her Time
She has been a great mare for her connections with two Group 1 and three Group 2 wins on her resume. She held on doggedly to win the 2019 Black Caviar Lightning by a short margin ahead of Osborne Bulls and Sunlight last year. She resumed from a break for 6th in The Galaxy but might find this too tough.
In the Spring this Exceed And Excel colt edged out Bivouac to win the Coolmore Stud Stakes. He has had 2 starts this campaign for 6th behind Bivouac in the Newmarket Handicap and 6th behind Loving Gaby in the William Reid. My money won’t be on him here.
During the Spring carnival she won consecutive Group 3 races with the Northwood Plume Stakes then the Begonia Belle Stakes. She has contested three Group 1 races this campaign for last in the Lightning, 7th in the Newmarket and a close 3rd in the Galaxy. If she manages to improve again she could place here.
11. White Moss
Currently the rank outsider of the field this grey mare had her last win in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes at this track and distance in April 2019. She resumed for 3rd in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes, then was 2nd in the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes and 4th in the Canterbury Stakes.She would need to improve dramatically on that to get in the trifecta here.
He has only raced 6 times before but has 4 wins and a place from those runs. He was impressive winning the Expressway Stakes by 1.5 lengths, then had excuses in the Canterbury Stakes where he was eased down and finished 6th. If he is over that he can run a place here.
13. Loving Gaby
This talented filly has 4 wins and 6 places from 12 starts, and 2 of those wins are Group 1’s. She chased hard to finish 2nd to Bivouac in the Newmarket then took over at the 200m and was strong through the line to win the William Reid Stakes by 1.25 lengths on 20 March. She is one of the main chances.
The following are the top 4 selections from our tipster panel for this years race.
|1 Nature Strip
|3 Santa Ana Lane
|13 Loving Gaby