By Andrew Adermann
The state of Queensland will be behind Alligator Blood as he eyes off an 11th win from 12 starts in tomorrow’s $5 million All-Star Mile at Caulfield.
Anointed the ‘Pride of Queensland’, the gun three-year-old has been a dominant force in Australian racing over the past 12 months, with his only defeat a heartbreaking photo finish to Super Seth in the Caulfield Guineas last year.
He goes into tomorrow’s second running of the All-Star Mile a clear $2.70 favourite, with New Zealand champion mare Melody Belle the only other single-figure hope at $5.
In saying that, there is no shortage of talent in the 15 horse field, with 10 of the starters having previously won a Group 1 race.
There have been ongoing doubts about his fitness and ability to stay up for such a long stretch, having had a run or trial in every month since June.
Furthermore, a tricky barrier draw (10) and threat of rain on Friday evening will bring a number of horses into play, as well as it being the Gator’s first crack at weight-for age.
“I think he’s probably got to put in a career-best performance to win the race and I’ll walk away happy if he runs top three,” trainer David Vandyke said.
“I think it’s a great honour to him that he is that price in a field of 10 Group One winners and I hope he lives up to that price and wins the race.
“But as I said, I’d be happy with a top-three performance considering the long drawn out preparation and the achievements he’s made.
“He’s got better as the days rolled on and he’ll be in pristine condition come Saturday.”
The All-Star Mile will be his last race for the preparation, earning a more than well-deserved break given his recent feats.
He will then be prepped for a spring campaign most likely in Sydney, with the $14 million Everest and $7.5 million Golden Eagle his primary targets.
Alligator Blood kicked off 2020 in dramatic fashion, stuck on his float in traffic for more than four hours after a crash on the Pacific Motorway almost derailed his shot at the $2 million Magic Millions 3YO Guineas.
That fiasco proved no issue as he coasted to an easy two-length victory at Aquis Park before travelling down to Melbourne for an Autumn campaign.
It was here where he announced himself as one of Australia’s best taking down New Zealand star Catalyst in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes, which will be remembered as a head-to-head clash for the ages.
Going in to his last start, that elusive Group 1 win still escaped ‘Al’ but another trademark lead from the front performance in the G1 Australian Guineas saw him claim his first top gong and cement his cult hero status.
“Group One status, Australian Guineas, Flemington - that was a huge feather in his cap,” Vandyke said.
“It was a first Group One for the owners and a first Group One for (jockey) Ryan Maloney so the pressure is off and we’re really enjoying this week.”
Racing Queensland would like to wish trainer David Vandyke, jockey Ryan Maloney and connections of the horse the best of luck tomorrow – do us proud!