The Underwood Stakes was first held over 8 furlongs (about 1600 metres) in 1924 and was won by Whittier who returned to win again in 1925. Over the years it has had many changes in distance and venue and was even run twice in 1944. It was held at Williamstown Racecourse from 1924 to 1938 and then was shuffled between Caulfield, Flemington and Moonee Valley until it settled at Caulfield in 1948. It has been run over 7, 8, 9 and 10 furlongs and became an 1800 metre race in 1994. Prior to 2013 it was the first Group 1 race day of Melbourne spring racing. In 2021 it was moved from Saturday at Caulfield to Sunday at Sandown Park making it the first Group 1 race to be held at that venue since 1996.
Lead-up races are the Makybe Diva Stakes (previously Craiglee Stakes) over 1600 metres and the Memsie Stakes over 1400 metres. The unusual middle distance of 1800 metres gives horses an excellent opportunity to step up in distance from 1400 and 1600 metre races in preparation for the 2000 and 2400 metre races later in the carnival, and this race is a good early guide to the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate. The winner is exempt from ballot for the Caulfield Cup.
Last mare to win: Bonneval (2017)
Last 3YO to win: C&G – Russian Camelot (2020); Filly – none
Multiple winners: Black Heart Bart (2016 & 2019); Northerly (2001 & 2002); Future (1965 & 1967); Aquanita (1961 & 1962); Lord (1958 & 1960); Flying Halo (1953 & 1954); Beau Gem (1949 & 1950); Attley (1946 & 1947); Ajax (1938,1939 & 1940); Young Idea (1935 & 1937); Hall Mark (1933 & 1934); Highland (1928 & 1929); Whittier (1924 & 1925).
Fastest time (1800m): Oliver Twist (2000) 1:47:63
Interesting trivia: In 1980 Waitangirua and My Brown Jug dead-heated for first. Royal Gem (1948 winner) and Beau Gem (1949 & 1950 winner) were brothers from French Gem.
Previous winners of the Underwood Stakes
This a race that quality horses win, as evidenced by over a dozen horses who have won the Underwood Stakes – Cox Plate double in the same year. The most recent was So You Think (2010), while Northerly who did it twice (2001 and 2002) although other horses have won in different years. Maldivian ran 4th in the Underwood in 2008 and went on to win the Cox Plate, while El Segundo won the Underwood in 2006 and the Cox Plate in 2007.
Underwood Stakes winners Jeune (1994) and Rain Lover (1969) both won the Melbourne Cup, while Elvstroem (2004), Mummify (2003), Northerly (2002), Tristarc (1985), How Now (1976), Sobar (1972) and Gay Icarus (1971) all won the Caulfield Cup. Other notable winners include Octagonal, Rubiton, Bonecrusher, So Called, Tobin Bronze, Lord, Ajax, Phar Lap and Heroic.
Black Heart Bart
Gailo Chop (FR)
Black Heart Bart
He Or She
It’s A Dundeel
So You Think
Heart Of Dreams
El Segundo (NZ)
Polar Bear (GB)
Our Smoking Joe
She’s Justa Tad (NZ)
Ain’t Seen Nothin’
Don Eduardo (NZ)
Kaapstad Way (NZ)
Skoozi Please (NZ)
Kaapstad Way (NZ)
From the archives:
2018 Underwood Stakes Preview & Tips:
Track: Good Weather: Overcast
There are only 10 runners for the $750,000 Hyland Colours Underwood Stakes. The early favourite is Grunt who was an impressive 2 length winner of the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes last start, and won 4 races in a row last campaign culminating in the Australian Guineas. Second favourite is Humidor who was doing his best work late when 7th in the Makybe Diva after winning the Memsie Stakes the start before, and looks as if the 1800m will suit. Third favourite is Blair House who won a Group 1 race in Dubai in March and will be having his first run back since March.
Comin’ Through made late round for 6th in the Maykbe Diva and had some very fast sectionals after winning the G2 Tramway Stakes the start before. Homesman hit the line strongly for 2nd when resuming in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam last start. Black Heart Bart won this race in 2016 but is not in great form at the moment. Ambitious was 6th in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam and has won over this distance. The other 3 runners are all at 20 to 1 or longer, including Bonneval who won this race last year.
The following are the top 4 selections from our tipster panel for this years race.