A Look at Notable Futurity Stakes Wins
The Futurity Stakes at Caulfield is one of Melbourne’s most venerable races, dating back to 1898. Its 120th running occurred only this year, however, thanks to the Victoria Cabinet’s embargo on Melbourne racing in 1921.
The winner of the inaugural race, originally run over seven furlongs (~1408m), revelled in the solidly Victorian-era name of Resolute. Since then, the Futurity Stakes has thrown up some notable winners, along with a few changes in the details; including a spell during the Second World War when the race was moved to Flemington.
From 2006 to 2010, for example, its distance was lengthened to 1600m as the first leg of the Asian Mile Challenge, but it reverted to 1400m from 2011. The only previous attempts to tinker with the race’s length – switching it to 1800m in 1979 and 1411m in 1996 – were quickly abandoned.
Manikato King of the Futurity
Several horse have won the Futurity Stakes twice, some of them in successive years: Gladsome in 1905 and 1906, for instance, St Razzle in 1949 and 1950, Idolou in 1973 and 1974, Schillaci in 1993 and 1995 and Niconero in 2008 and 2009.
However, in 1979, 1980 and 1981, when the legendary Manikato took three Futurity Stakes in a row, he was the first horse to equal the record set by Ajax in 1938, 1939 and 1940. But there was more to come. In 1983, Manikato came back to win the Stakes for the fourth time, making him the only horse ever to do so.
Only One Dead Heat in 120 Years
The arrival of the photo-finish camera in 1937 has made a dead heat in modern horseracing very rare indeed. The Futurity Stakes has seen only one such result in its entire history: in 2001, when even the camera couldn’t separate Desert Sky and Mr Murphy as they crossed the line.
The most successful jockey in the Futurity Stakes has been Roy Higgins, who won the race eight times. In the modern era, the most successful trainers have been Lee Freedman and David Hayes, with four Futurity Stakes winners each. Freedman trained Schillaci and Hayes trained Niconero, so they’ve both also produced double Futurity winners.
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