TJ Smith Stakes Tips - three-peat on the cards

  • Chautauqua has the best form and fitness advantage.
  • Prove record at track and trip can't be denied.
  • Confidence rating: 92%
Tommy Berry rides Chautauqua

Racing is a game of uncertainties but one thing is certain going into Saturday’s Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) – Chautauqua is the fittest horse in the race.

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The flashy grey son of Encosta De Lago has had three testing runs this campaign, while all bar one of his rivals (Derry being the exception), are first, second or third-up from a spell.

Now, fitness doesn’t always win sprint races, but when it comes to a testing 1200m on a likely Heavy track, fitness will be paramount when it comes to the final 100m – and this is where Chautauqua will shine.

He’s come through an unorthodox campaign this time, but with a history-breaking third TJ Smith Stakes up for grabs for Chautauqua, there is no doubting this has been the plan all along for him.

Although he has failed to win in his past six starts, I actually think he’s going better than ever.

His first-up run in the Rubiton Stakes (1100m) was just what you’d want to see from a horse that was being geared toward Saturday’s $2.5 million sprint.

He was narrowly defeated by Le Romain in the Canterbury Stakes (1300m), but it was clear to see he didn’t want to go a yard on the Heavy 10 track in the early part of the race where he was a distant last, but his class took him very close to victory.

Last start it was the same thing with a Heavy 10 track, and the step up to 1500m wasn’t to his advantage having never raced over that distance.

Anything better than a Heavy 10 will see an improved performance from Chautauqua, and if you go back and watch his last two wins in this event, you’ll see what a freak he is over 1200m at Randwick.

Of his opposition, I’m not keen on the three-year-olds for the following reasons:

Godolphin boss Henry Plumtre has indicated Astern is behind the eight ball this campaign and will be better suited in the All Aged Stakes (1400m) before being retired to stud.

Russian Revolution was an impressive winner of the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) but now goes up 5kg and faces tougher opposition, while Derry’s win in the Darby Munro (1200m) was six lengths slower than the girls in the Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) and also slower than the two-year-olds in the Slipper.

Of the older horses, Voodoo Lad and Spieth look the testing material, but none have the credentials of Chautauqua in a fast-run TJ Smith Stakes.

2019 TJ Smith Stakes

DateSaturday, April 6, 2019
Track Royal Randwick
ClassGroup 1
Race TypeWeight-for-age
Prizemoney$2.5 million
AgeNo age restrictions

TJ Smith Stakes Facts:

An open weight-for-age sprint that takes place on Day 1 of The Championships at Royal Randwick, the TJ Smith Stakes is one of four Group 1 features on the day.

Headlined by the $3 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m), the T J Smith Stakes showcases some of the world’s best sprinters on a day which also hosts the $2 million Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) and the $1 million Group 1 Sires Produce Stakes (1400m).

Mahogany won the inaugural TJ Smith Stakes in 1997 when the race was known as the Listed Endeavour Stakes.

In 1999 the race was renamed the TJ Smith Stakes in honour of Thomas John Smith (Tommy Smith) who won 33 trainers premierships.

Smith’s daughter, Gai Waterhouse, has captured the feature sprint on three occasions – Phoenix Park (2002), Shamekha (2005) and Bentley Biscuit (2007).

With $2.5 million in prizemoney the TJ Smith Stakes is fast becoming one of the most highly-regarded races on the Australian racing calendar.

Form students will be looking at three separate Group 1 features leading up to the TJ Smith Stakes as the most reliable guide when assessing a runner’s chances on Day 1 of The Championships.

The Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) held at Flemington three weeks earlier, the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) held at Rosehill Gardens two weeks earlier and the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) held at Mooney Valley eight days earlier have been the best lead-up indicators into the TJ Smith Stakes.

Unbeaten champion Black Caviar won the William Reid on both occasions prior to winning both of her TJ Smith Stakes.

She won the race in 2011 and 2013 and is the headline name to have won the race.

Other notable winners of the TJ Smith Stakes include Mahogany (1997), La Baraka (1998), Phoenix Park (2002), Spinning Hill (2003), Shamekha (2005), Apache Cat (2008), Takeover Target (2009) and Lankan Rupee (2014).

Winners of the TJ Smith Stakes have recently gone on to win the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) held on the final day of the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.

The Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained Chautauqua claimed the event in 2015 before returning with an even more emphatic victory the following year as he swept down the outside, having raced in last position for the first 800m of the race. Jockey Tommy Berry rode Chautauqua in 2015 and 2016.

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TJ Smith Stakes Tips - three-peat on the cards

Racing is a game of uncertainties but one thing is certain going into Saturday’s Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) – Chautauqua is the fittest horse in the race.

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