Rob Heathcote’s special little filly Startantes...
The Group 1 $1 million Australian Guineas (1600m) back at HQ at the end of the month is now firmly on the agenda for the brilliant Alligator Blood after the Queenslander’s thrilling win over Catalyst in Saturday’s CS Hayes Stakes.
In what will go down as one of the most exciting editions of the Group 3 $160,000 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) in history, two future superstars of the turf were engaged in a stride-for-stride war down the Flemington straight ahead of their rematch in the 2020 Australian Guineas.
The David Vandyke-trained All Too Hard gelding Alligator Blood jumped odds-on favourite in CS Hayes betting, the gun three-year-old chasing a fourth straight win.
The bay made it a hat-trick of wins in the sunshine state when overcoming plenty of race day drama to win the $2 million Magic Millions 3YO Guineas (1400m) at the Gold Coast by two lengths on January 11.
He faced his biggest test to date on Black Caviar Lightning Day, plenty of hype surrounded Alligator Blood as he lined-up from the inside alley with Ryan Maloney in the saddle once again.
“There was a bit more pressure on him today,” Maloney said.
“He’s become such a cult horse.”
Clean out, the danger was ever present with the Clayton Chipperfield-trained Darci Brahma gelding from New Zealand Catalyst chasing his seventh consecutive win in his Australia race debut.
Alligator Blood was matched by Catalyst in the first 200m before pulling ahead to lead the fence with the Kiwi on his outside.
“He’s a lot more settled and he’s so versatile now, you can put him wherever and he’ll switch off for you,” Maloney said.
Jockey James McDonald was eventually happy to settle second on the outside of the punters’ pick as Alligator Blood relaxed in the lead.
Maloney held Alligator Blood together around the turn before letting down 300m out from the line.
Catalyst was not going away however, the raider sticking with him and giving Maloney some trouble as the hoop was unable to get a good whip action going on the favourite.
Showing great tenacity and toughness, Alligator Blood ($1.80) eventually lengthened and stuck his neck out for the tight victory over Catalyst ($3) with the Anthony Freedman-trained Chenier ($19) a further length back third.
“It feels like a Group 1,” Maloney said.
“I can’t be more proud of this horse.
“We got away with some cheap sectionals.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for that Catalyst. The times he’d been running and the manner in which he’d been doing it, I knew it was going to be a really good test today.
“Today was his biggest test to date. He had to dig deep and he’s done it with flying colours.
“He’s pulled up a treat. He’s just done a terrific job and the sky’s the limit for him.”
Alligator Blood joined Hey Doc ($3.70 in 2017) and Hucklebuck ($2.80 in 2014) as the only CS Hayes Stakes favourites to salute for the punters in the past decade.
“I was looking at the sectionals and I thought ‘gee whizz, he’s going to have to be good to win this’”, winning trainer Vandyke said after the race.
“The little Queenslander, he picked himself up off the canvas. They were two top class horses. The time they ran for the last 400m was incredible.
“When he just got the edge that last 50 metres and showed his class, I thought ‘wow, that’s his best performance’.
“We’ve never seen him go head to head with another horse…so for the last 300 for those horses to fight it out like that, credit to the second one, but my horse wow he is something really special.”
He will now be out to become the fourth winner of the CS Hayes Stakes – Australian Guineas double in five years following the previous victories by: Wandjina (2015), Hey Doc (2017) and Grunt (2018).
The all-in Australian Guineas 2020 odds on Alligator Blood to win the Group 1 at Flemington on February 29 have firmed in from $4 to $3.20 at Ladbrokes.com.au.
He is now the co-favourite with Catalyst who has been tightened in from $3.40 to $3.20.
Medaglia D’Oro Chenier occupies the second line at $7 having been wound right in from $21 after his eye-catching third in his first run since last April.
Alligator Blood is also eyeing a run in Caulfield’s $5 million The All-Star Mile (1600m) on March 14 and pays $6.50 just behind Catalyst ($6) to win the Special Conditions feature.
2020 CS Hayes Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||3||ALLIGATOR BLOOD||David Vandyke||Ryan Maloney||–||1||57.5kg||$1.80F|
|2||1||CATALYST (NZ)||Clayton Chipperfield||James McDonald||0.1L||6||58.5kg||$3|
|3||8||CHENIER||Anthony Freedman||Damien Oliver||1.1L||2||55kg||$19|
|4||5||SOUL PATCH||Ken Keys||Craig Williams||3.35L||5||57.5kg||$31|
|5||4||DALASAN||Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas||Ben Melham||3.85L||4||57.5kg||$6|
|6||2||YOURDEEL (NZ)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Regan Bayliss||6.1L||3||58.5kg||$71|
|–||6||SPEND||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||–||0||–||–|
|–||7||BIG PARADE||Clare Cunningham||Michael Dee||–||0||–||–|
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