Contested under standard weight for age conditions, the Underwood Stakes is open to horses that are aged three-years-old and upwards. The Group 1 feature sees horses that headed towards the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and/or Melbourne Cup later in the spring.
Whittier claimed the inaugural running in 1924 and quickly made it back-to-back victories in the event when returning the following year to contest the Principal Race.
Since 1979, when taken out by Valley Of Georgia, it has been a race with Group 1 status, although it has endured a number of distance changes – 1600m, 1400m, 1800m, 2000m and back to 1800m.
With $400,000 in prizemoney, the race attracts a number of top-line stayers that enter the event on the back of runs in races such as the Memsie Stakes and Makybe Diva Stakes or the PB Lawrence Stakes and Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes.
The latter option is the two lead-up runs used by 2015 winner Mourinho who won the PB Lawrence before finishing sixth in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes. It was this stayer’s first win at Group 1 level and was also the first Group 1 for his trainer Peter Gelagotis.
One of the most thrilling finishes to an Underwood Stakes came in the 2013 edition when It’s A Dundeel defeated the previously unbeaten champion mare Atlantic Jewel by a short head.
Four-year-olds carry 58kg and five-year-olds and above carry 59kg in the event with mares receiving their usual 2kg allowance meaning that a four-year-old mare will carry 56kg in comparison to a five-year-old mare who would carry 57kg.
The Underwood Stakes has been won by a number of champion gallopers with the honour roll boasting a stack of household names.
Notable winners include Heroic (1926), Phar Lap (1931), Ajax (1938-40), Royal Gem (1948), Lord (1958 & 1960), Tobin Bronze (1966), Rain Lover (1969), Bonecrusher (1986), Almaarad (1989), Jeune (1994), Octagonal (1996), Tie The Knot (1998), Northerly (2001-02), Mummify (2003), Elvstroem (2004), El Segundo (2006), Weekend Hussler (2008), So You Think (2010), Ocean Park (2012) and It’s A Dundeel (2013).