One of the highlights of the Adelaide Racing Carnival, the South Australian Derby takes place at Morphettville Racecourse at the end of April or beginning of May each year.
Carrying a prize fund of $500,000, it is a Group 1 race in which some smart three-year-olds horses compete under set weight conditions over the staying trip of 2500m.
Held over a variety of distances since its inception in 1860, when won by a horse named Midnight, the current 2500m trip was settled on in 2001. Previously, the race had been elevated to its Group 1 status in 1979 with Top Ware winning the first held as a Group 1 race.
The race is the premier staying race for three-year-olds during the Adelaide Racing Carnival and attracts South Australia’s leading performed, who will usually have performed throughout the carnival, as well as raiders from Sydney and Melbourne.
The lead up to the South Australian Derby includes running in the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes over 2000m, held a week early on Australasian Oaks day at Morphettville. Three-year-old fillies occasionally take on the colts having run in the Schweppes Oaks a week early, while a route via the Sydney Autumn Carnival and the Australian Derby is also a popular journey to the South Australian Derby.
The 2008 South Australian Derby winner Zarita was the last filly to win the race having already won the Australasian Oaks a week earlier.
The South Australian Derby has been won by notable names including Melbourne Cup winner Subzero, who did the double in 1992, and Mummify, who went on to land the Caulfield Cup in 2003 following victory in the Morphettville classic.
South Australian Derby winners Shivas Revenge (1991) and Count Chivas (1995) both went agonisingly close to Melbourne Cup glory when finishing runner-up at Flemington.