The TJ Smith Stakes is a 1200 metre weight-for-age race run by the Australian Jockey Club. The race is held at Randwick in April on the same day as the ATC Australian Derby.

  • Race Type: Group 1, Open WFA
  • Distance: 1,200 metres
  • Track: Randwick Racecourse, Sydney, New South Wales
  • Date: Saturday 4 April 2020

The TJ Smith Stakes is one of Sydney’s youngest races. It was first held in 1997 as the Listed Endeavour Stakes when it was won by Mahogany. In 1998 it was renamed in honour of legendary trainer Tommy Smith who died later that year after dominating Sydney racing for over 30 years. It became a Group 1 race in 2005.

The race attracts top quality sprinters from across the nation. Interestingly since becoming a Group 1 race no runner has had over two runs that preparation before winning the race.

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.

2. Pierata

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.

4. Redzel

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.

5. Trekking

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.

6. Vegadaze

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.

7. Bivouac

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.

9. Exceedance

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.

10. Tofane

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.

12. Standout

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.

Jo’s Tips
1 Nature Strip
3 Santa Ana Lane
13 Loving Gaby
7 Bivouac

Past winners of the T J Smith Stakes:

Takeover Target (2009) and Shamekha (2005) won first-up, Melito (2010) and Bentley Biscuit (2007) won second-up, while Apache Cat (2008) and Red Oog (2006) won third-up from a spell. Chautauqua was the first horse to win the race in consecutive years, and the first to win it 3 times.

Beginning in 2010 there is an added incentive to win the TJ Smith Stakes because the winner receives automatic entry to the US Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint held over 1200 metres in Kentucky, USA in November. This gives Australian owners and trainers another opportunity to compete in international racing.

Trainer Gai Waterhouse is the daughter of Tommy Smith and has won this race named in honour of her father several times with Phoenix Park (2002), Shamekha (2005) and Bentley Biscuit (2007).

Year Winner Second Third
2019 Nature Strip Santa Ana Lane Redzel
2019 Santa Ana Lane Osborne Bulls Sunlight
2018 Trapeze Artist Redzel In Her Time
2017 Chautauqua English Fell Swoop
2016 Chautauqua Fell Swoop English
2015 Chautauqua Lord Of The Sky Terravista
2014 Lankan Rupee Rebel Dane Buffering
2013 Black Caviar Epaulette Bel Sprinter
2012 Master Of Design Rain Affair Hallowell Belle
2011 Black Caviar Hay List Triple Honour
2010 Melito Hot Danish Mic Mac
2009 Takeover Target Northern Meteor Apache Cat
2008 Apache Cat Reigning To Win Takeover Target
2007 Bentley Biscuit Black Ink Virage De Fortune
2006 Red Oog Glamour Puss (NZ) Snitzel
2005 Shamekha Fastnet Rock Only Words
2004 Dilly Dally Legally Bay Mistegic
2003 Spinning Hill Yell Bel Esprit
2002 Phoenix Park Fair Embrace Spinning Hill
2001 Century Kid (NZ) Spinning Hill Falvelon
2000 Shy Hero (NZ) Easy Rocking High Rolling

T J Smith Stakes Final Field & Odds 2020

See below for early markets for this years TJ Smith Stakes.

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