W.S. Cox Plate
The Race 8B (Moonee Valley) – 2:40 Am EDT Sat morning
This is the Big One!
Tony’s contenders: 2-1-6-10-8-11-13
The $3 million Cox Plate (currently worth $2.6 million in US dollars) is the second richest “weight for age” race in the Southern Hemisphere. Weight for age means that weights are determined solely by age and sex. Horses are not penalized after winning other prestigious races by having to carry more weight. This is much different than the two other important Australian races for horses three and up, the Caulfield Cup and (especially) the Melbourne Cup, where lesser horses that “get in with a light weight” can win over horses forced to carry more weight after important prior wins.
Record of Favorites in the Cox Plate 1991-2013
Their have been 26 horses favored in the last 23 runnings of the Cox Plate (in 1995, 1996 and 2002 there were two horses that were co-favored). Here is how the favorites have performed:
5 winners (19.2%), 10 in the money finishes (38.5%), with a NEGATIVE 55.3% flat bet loss.
In other words, the Favorites in recent memory have been a terrible bet in the Cox Plate, even with leading runners not having to carry additional weight. I will propose some theories for the lack or recent success of the favorites:
- Big fields. The Cox Plate is almost always a 14-horse field.
- The host track, Moonee Valley. Moonee Valley has really tight turns and a stretch that is only 551 feet long (most American tracks have a stretch that is 950 to 1,050 feet long).
- Horses that do well at Moonee Valley can win there again and again. So You Think, Fields of Omagh and Northerly all won the Cox Plate twice in the last 15 runnings.
- Because of the short stretch MILERS can stretch their speed and hang on. Shamus Award, Pinker Pinker and Maldivian were all confirmed milers that won the Cox Plate at big odds. Longer-winded horses often “run out of ground” before landing a blow at the Valley.
The 2014 Cox Plate Contenders
Under the Australian system, the field is numbered by WEIGHT CARRIED and then (if tied) by the racing organization’s handicapper rating. If they are still tied they are ranked alphabetically. Here is the field with my comments:
#2 Fawkner (post 4 of 14) will be favored and has some legitimate credentials. He won the Caulfield Cup last year, and has been very impressive in his two runs this year. The spacing between races on Sept. 13th and October 11th, is subtle, but critical. Usually championship-caliber Aussie runners run every two to three weeks. The fact Fawkner was able to beat sharper horses with a four week break was great and he SHOULD IMPROVE off that last run. He also has won at the Valley and drawing post 4 should work out extremely well with his tactical racing style. Faulkner is definitely the horse to beat. Since favorites have done so poorly in this race, demand at least 7/2 odds to win if you fancy him.
#1 Sacred Falls (post 9 of 14): Drew well enough in post 9 of 14 tonight after drawing post 12 of 12 in the Caulfield prep for this. Took back to last early, and closed well enough in a race that had a purse only 12% of the value of tonight’s race. Tonight’s race is the target. Sacred Falls has won $4.1 million and while he has never won at 10 furlongs, he has won at a MILE for huge money many times and was second in a $3.6 million dollar, 10 furlong race in Sydney. Also Chris Waller is known for having his horses peak on the big days. I am expecting a big run. Fair odds 5/1
#6 The Cleaner (post 14 of 14): This horse is very similar to last year’s winner Shamus Award, in the sense he only knows how to win on the front end. The wide draw is a negative, but if you look at the other horses in this field the only other pace should come from #3 Side Glance, who I expect to sit second, especially with a European rider (Jamie Spencer) in the irons. He has won four of his last five races, and this horse adores the Valley: 6-4-1-1 career record. This one will definitely have the lead at the top of the home straight. Fair odds 8/1
#10 Royal Descent (post 3 of 14): She will get a nice trip from post 3, especially if The Cleaner stretches the field as expected. Her speed figures are good enough to win this race, but she always finds one better. Use her in the tri and super. Fair odds 10/1
#8 Criterion (post 6 of 14): True story – this horse was purchased as a yearling to compete in 2 year old sprint races, and he found a second career as a route horse. Might get a LOT of pace to run at and seems to be getting better at the right time. Fair odds 10/1
#11 Adelaide (post 13 of 14): He has run in several countries and competed against 3 year olds in America twice, losing a heartbreaker to Mr. Speaker in the Belmont Derby and beating the brilliant Tourist in the Secretariat at Arlington. In September was shipped to Longchamp near Paris and from what my sources tell me ran THE biggest speed figure of the 2014 Cox Plate field. Frankly, I wonder if he can duplicate that number, as his US races were not very strong, and Longchamp (two modest right-handed turns with a 1,200 foot stretch) is radically different from Moonee Valley (four sharp left-handed turns and a 551 foot stretch). He will be around 5/1 odds tonight, and he has the talent to win, but it is not my kind of bet. My fair odds of 12/1
#13 Sweynesse (post 12 of 14): (pronounced SWAY-ness) been considered a potential star for a while now, and in his previous race his jockey moved too soon and cost the horse second placing, at least. Is bred to run all day and gets in VERY light (Adelaide is considered a 4 year old on Southern Hemisphere birthday time, so he carries 14 more pounds than Sweynesse). Jockey Chad Schofield is as skilled as any jockey in Australia, and he won this race last year on a maiden. If everything goes right this horse can get it done. Sweynesse probably needs a speed duel to develop between The Cleaner and Side Glance to make the most of his late kick. Fair odds 15/1