Underwood Stakes

The Underwood Stakes is a $350 000 Group 1 weight for age race for horses aged three years or older. It is run over 1800m at Caulfield each September.

It is the first Group 1 of the Melbourne spring and marks an important step towards the features. Every year, it attracts horses heading towards the Caulfield Cup, the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup.

First run in 1924 at Werribee, it was an eight furlong (1600m) contest won by the likes of Whittier (1924, 1925), Heroic (1926), Phar Lap (1931), Hall Mark (1933, 1934), Young Idea (1935, 1937) and Ajax (1938, 1939, 1940).

From 1948, the race was run at Caulfield, its current home. From 1949 to 1953, it was held over nine furlongs (1800m) before being stepped up to 10 furlongs (2000m) in 1954. It was not until 1994 that it came back to 1800m.

Notable winners since 1948 have included Lord (1958, 1960), Aquanita (1961, 1962), Tobin Bronze (1966), Rain Lover (1969), Big Philou (1970), How Now (1976), Sovereign Red (1981), Bonecrusher (1986), Rubiton (1987), Almaarad (1989), Jeune (1994), Octagonal (1996), Tie The Knot (1998), Northerly (2001, 2002), Mummify (2003), Elvstroem (2004), Weekend Hussler (2008) and So You Think (2010).

In 2011, Lion Tamer defeated the eventual Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed with Midas Touch third, while 2012 saw the Kiwi raider and eventual Cox Plate winner Ocean Park hold off the imports Voila Ici and December Draw.

The last time the Underwood Stakes failed to produce a winner of one of the features – the Caulfield Cup, the Cox Plate or the Melbourne Cup – was 2007, when Rubiscent was a shock winner from Miss Finland and Marasco.

Most runners in the Underwood Stakes come through the Group 2 Memsie Stakes (1400m), held at Caulfield two weeks before, while other notable lead up races include the Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington, the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm and the Group 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hastings in New Zealand.

From the Underwood Stakes, horses generally go to the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) or the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m).