Underwood Stakes

Underwood Stakes

Group One Betting Guide
Date: Saturday, September 26, 2020
Location: Caulfield Racecourse
Prize Money: $750,000
Distance: 1,800m

Sometimes referred to as the unofficial opening of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the Group 1 Underwood Stakes is the first weight-for-age race of the spring.

The weight-for-age race is the headline act on the Caulfield card each year, and goes alongisde Golden Rose day in Sydney.

The Underwood is often looked at as a precursor to the Cox Plate, with the double having been done 15 times over the race’s 90-year history. Another six horses have run in the Underwood and then gone on to win the Cox Plate.

The most well-known to achieve this feat was Northerly, trained by Fred Kersley, who did it in 2001 and 2002. The latter victory made all the more special by the great horse also winning the Caulfield Cup in the same year.

Despite all the bluster about it being a trial run for the Caulfield Cup, just seven horses have done the double before, admittedly three of those Northerly (2002), Mummify (2003) and Elvstroem (2004) have been since 2000.

Betting on the Underwood Stakes

The Underwood Stakes has thrown up some true surprises over the years for punters. As it is so early in the season it is hard to gauge a horse’s form, with many of the leading contenders having their eyes on bigger rewards later in the carnival.

Last year’s winner Black Heart Bart was the biggest priced winner when he got up at $101 in what was a shock to many a punter.

It can pay to do some research and see what the trainer is planning for that specific campaign, a horse might have two runs under its belt and be peaking, while a much quicker horse might be aimed at the Cox Plate and using the Underwood as a warm-up.

All Australian bookies worth their grain of salt will have markets out for the Underwood at least a month in advance.

United States Sport Table

Sport Table


2020 Underwood Stakes odds

Russian Camelot has come up a short priced favourite at $2.20 and would expect Danny O’Brien’s future superstar galloper to start odds on raceday, considering how luckless he was upon resumption at Flemington to only go down a neck was one brave effort in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes. Perth galloper Arcadia Queen is on the second line of betting after a much improved second up run in the Let’s Elope Stakes. Mr Quickie, Humidor, The Chosen One and Harbour Views are all at nice each way odds as knockout chances.

Underwood Stakes form guide

With the Underwood such a popular race for horses attempting to win the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate, it can be hard to read the form for this race.

The Makybe Diva Stakes, which was formerly run as the Craiglee Stakes, is run two weeks earlier at Flemington over 1600m and has proven a great guide to horses fortunes in the Underwood.

Another race, the Memsie Stakes (1400m), run at Caulfield about a month earlier has produced two Underwood winners – So You Think and El Segundo, who both are Cox Plate winners.

Bart Cummings has been the star of the training ranks, with three wins from 20 runners in the Underwood. Danny Nikolic has a remarkable record in the race with nine rides, for four wins, a second and a third.

A brief history of the Underwood Stakes

The Underwood Stakes is named after a former chairman of the Victorian Amateur Turf Club James Underwood and has been run every year since 1924.

While the race is run over 1800m today, it has not always been this way with being run anywhere from 2400m to 1600m.

Some of the more prominent winners include So You Think (2010), Weekend Hussler (2008), Tie The Knot (1998), Octagonal (1996) and the fabled dual Melbourne Cup winner Rain Lover, who won the great race in 1969.

2019 Underwood Stakes result

1stBlack Heart Bart ($101)
2ndHomesman ($1.30)
3rdGailo Chop ($5.00)

Underwood Stakes – Recent runnings

  • Homesman was looking to go back in Underwood Stakes, but the Lindsey Smith trained Black Hear Bart floored Punters, and made sure quaddie tickets were confetti when he saluted at $101 in what turned out to be the Gelding’s final win before retirement and claimed his second Unerwood Stakes in the process. Homesman was able to find his way into second, whilst Gailo Chop was able to fill out the minor placings.
    • The Liam Howley-trained Homesman has been one of the more impressive imports Aussie punters have seen this year, but until his breakthrough Underwood Stakes win, group success had eluded the American product. Under a brilliant Ben Melham ride, the five-year-old broke away from the field and looked to have the race sewn up before Darren Weir’s Japanese import Tosen Basil made a late charge. Homesman held on however to deliver a powerful Underwood Stakes win.
    • New Zealand mare Bonneval continued its superb winning run by scoring a convincing Underwood Stakes victory. The Baker/Forsman-trained four-year-old was a multiple Oaks winner prior to running at Caulfield and it secured the significant weight-for-age victory. Bonneval firmed into Caulfield Cup markets with the win over Hartnell. Read report here.
    • Black Heart Bart emerged as a serious contender for the Cox Plate with a scintillating win in 2016. Brad Rawiller steered Black Heart Bart despite carrying an injury and the pair answered the doubts over whether the horse could run 1800m. Trained by Darren Weir, Black Heart Bart ($2.20) made it two group 1s on the trot, after sitting third for most of the race before moving up at the top of the straight. The six year old beat home He or She, with Lucia Valentina also impressing to finish third. Read a full report.
    • Mourinho, trained by Peter Gelagotis, defied being eight years old to hold out a class field, including fellow eight year olds Fawkner ($3.40) and The Cleaner ($7.50). For Gelagotis it was a sweet victory after Mourinho did not get a start in the 2014 Cox Plate.
    • Chris Waller’s Foreteller produced a stirring sprint to defeat the previous year’s Cox Plate runner-up Happy Trails. Waller claimed after the race that the eight year old was racing as well as ever, after slowly working through the grades over a distinguished career.
    • It’s a Dundeel took advantage of a wet track to win from Atlantic Jewel. Billed as the Race of the Millennium, Michael Rodd onboard Atlantic Jewel made the early pace, but it was James McDonald and It’s A Dundeel with the perfect run. Trained by Murray Baker, It’s A Dundeel only got the upper hand in the final few strides.

    Previous Underwood Stakes winners

    Underwood Stakes past winners
    Year Underwood Stakes Past Winner
    2019 Black Heart Bart
    2018 Homesman
    2017 Bonneval
    2016 Black Heart Bart
    2015 Mourinho
    2014 Foreteller
    2013 It’s a Dundeel
    2012 Ocean Park
    2011 Lion Tamer
    2010 So You Think
    2009 Heart Of Dreams
    2008 Weekend Hussler
    2007 Rubiscent
    2006 El Segundo
    2005 Perlin
    2004 Elvstroem
    2003 Mummify
    2002 Northerly
    2001 Northerly
    2000 Oliver Twist
    1999 Intergaze
    1998 Tie the Knot
    1997 Always Aloof
    1996 Octagonal
    1995 Sharscay
    1994 Jeune
    1993 Runyon
    1992 Prince Salieri
    1991 Dr. Grace
    1990 The Phantom
    1989 Almaarad
    1988 Authaal
    1987 Rubiton
    1986 Bonecrusher
    1985 Tristarc
    1984 Bounty Hawk
    1983 Trissaro
    1982 Fearless Pride
    1981 Sovereign Red
    1980 My Brown Jug / Waitangirua
    1979 Valley Of Georgia
    1978 So Called
    1977 Denise’s Joy
    1976 How Now
    1975 Taras Bulba
    1974 Frozen Section
    1973 Scotch And Dry
    1972 Sobar
    1971 Gay Icarus
    1970 Big Philou
    1969 Rain Lover
    1968 Lowland
    1967 Future
    1966 Tobin Bronze
    1965 Future
    1964 Contempler
    1963 Havelock
    1962 Aquanita
    1961 Aquanita
    1960 Lord
    1959 Trellios
    1958 Lord
    1957 Syntax
    1956 Ray Ribbon
    1955 Cromis
    1954 Flying Halo
    1953 Flying Halo
    1952 Ellerslie
    1951 Laurie Hussar
    1950 Beau Gem
    1949 Beau Gem
    1948 Royal Gem
    1947 Attley
    1946 Attley
    1945 St. Fairy
    1944 Amana / Tea Cake
    1943 Gay Revelry
    1942 Race Not Held
    1941 Sun Valley
    1940 Ajax
    1939 Ajax
    1938 Ajax
    1937 Young Idea
    1936 Peter Fils
    1935 Young Idea
    1934 Hall Mark
    1933 Hall Mark
    1932 Liberal
    1931 Phar Lap
    1930 Waterline
    1929 Highland
    1928 Highland
    1927 Royal Charter
    1926 Heroic
    1925 Whittier
    1924 Whittier