An interesting thing happened in October of 2013 in Australia’s $3 Million “weight for age” Championship, run at the tight-turned, short stretch Moonee Valley layout over 10 furlongs: The race was won by an 0 for 9 maiden named Shamus Award by a diminishing neck (costing me $2400 in North American pick 3 pool winnings – easily my worst beat ever).
This Friday night (North American time), Shamus Award makes his first racetrack appearance since his 25/1 victory in the Cox Plate in the Group 1 C.F. Orr stakes at 7 furlongs at Caulfield. His trainer is crafty and his last public workout was extremely potent, winning by just over 3 lengths as the rider pleased in a simulated sprint race Aussies call a “barrier trial.”. In a moment of “if you can’t beat them, join them,” I also drafted Shamus Award into my 2014 Fantasy Stable, so I am hoping for big things from the colt.
Historical Analysis of C.F. Orr winners and their prep races, provided by Brad Bishop of Racing Victoria (Melbourne is the center of racing in the Australian province of Victoria):
“History says, to borrow a saying popular with handicappers, whatever beats Shamus Award home in Saturday’s Sportingbet C.F. Orr Stakes at Caulfield will win the $400,000 Group 1.
No three-year-old colt has won the Orr and Cox Plate, as Shamus Award famously did in October, in the same season since the Orr attained Group 1 status in 1993, but not many have had a crack. In fact, Savabeel is the only three-year-old to have tried, finishing second behind the top-class Elvstroem in 2005.
Most of the older Cox Plate winners who have contested the Orr in the past two decades have also finished top-two. Four other Cox Plate winners have had a crack at the Orr in that time and Northerly’s fourth behind Yell in 2003 is the only time a Cox winner hasn’t filled a quinella spot.
Northerly also resumed in the Orr in 2002, following his initial Cox Plate success, finishing second to Barkada. Saintly and Maldivian are the other Cox Plate winners to run in the Orr in the same season since 1993 and they both completed the winning stakes double.
All up, eight Cox Plate winners have won the Orr Stakes – which was first run in 1925 – in the same season, although filly Surround is the only three-year-old to have achieved the feat.
All Too Hard (second in the 2012 Cox Plate) registered a win for the three-year-olds last season, arresting a nine-year drought for them. However, three-year-olds won all six Orr Stakes between 1998 and 2003.
Eurozone is the only other three-year-old engaged in this year’s Orr following trainer Robbie Laing’s last-minute decision to keep Polanski running against only three-year-olds in the 7 furlong Autumn Stakes.
Eurozone and Shamus Award are both first off the layoff and Form Focus data reveals that has been the winning prep in the Orr Stakes in recent years with seven of the past 10 winners being first off from a spell.
The other three winners had one return race after resuming in the Group 2, 6 furlong Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley, a form line C.F. Orr morning line favorite Moment of Change takes into this year’s race.”