With the Victorian spring carnival mere weeks away, the running of the Group 1 Underwood Stakes on Saturday was a tense and thrilling event. In recent years this premier weight-for-age race has been an excellent indicator for the elite spring carnival events. For the competitive gallopers aimed towards Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup victory, the Underwood Stakes is a central race in their lead-up campaigns.
Bookmakers and punters keenly watched the Underwood Stakes at Caulfield on the weekend, hoping to get a heads up on which horses to follow for the rest of the spring carnival betting.
Nine of the first ten runners over the line in the 1800m Underwood Stakes are now continuing their dominance in the spring feature’s betting markets. The winner on Saturday, four-year-old Heart Of Dreams, has now soared towards the top of the Cox Plate betting, sitting around fourth favourite after upsetting the favourite Whobegotyou. Still leading the Cox Plate odds, Whobegotyou ($3.80) was runner-up. The third horse over the line on Saturday was Predatory Pricer, now also third favourite for the Cox Plate at around $9.50 and second pick for the Caulfield Cup at $9.
The best backed horse for the prestigious Melbourne Cup on November 3 and the Caulfield Cup, Vigor placed a respectable sixth at the Underwood Stakes, doing little to dent his favourable position in the market.
Odds are on that at least one of the three spring feature races will be taken out this year by a contender in the Underwood Stakes. Other standout stayers to place well in the race included Red Ruler (fifth), Master O’Reilly (seventh), Efficient (ninth), Viewed (10th) and C’Est La Guerre (13th).
History has shown that the top quality horses who contested the Underwood Stakes often see continued spring success. For example last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Viewed had previously run seventh in the Underwood, and Maldivian followed his fourth place in the Underwood Stakes with a Cox Plate victory.
The 2004 and 2003 Underwood Stakes’ winners, Elvstroem and Mummify, both continued their success winning the Caulfield Cup. Another notable Underwood Stakes’ victor is Northerly who managed two successive wins in 2001 and 2002, prior to taking out the Cox Plate for both years and the 2002 Caulfield Cup to top off his impressive run.