The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Alligator Blood on the quick back-up continued to frank that hot Mr Brightside form with a gutsy victory in the 2023 Underwood Stakes with the soon-to-retire champion Damien Oliver in the saddle.
The Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained cult galloper celebrated his official sixth Group 1 victory when overcoming a tricky run on the short seven-day turnaround to become the 13th horse to win multiple editions of the $750,000 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
He did it at Sandown last year and was superior going back-to-back this time at Caulfield for the first time since the great Northerly back in 2001-02.
The crowds were there to see the Gator and the heroic former Queenslander didn’t disappoint his fans.
“It’s so lovely that he could deliver. So many people came here today to see Alligator Blood,” co-trainer Gai Waterhouse told Racing.com after the victory.
“It was a fabulous win today. He got shuffled back to fifth, had to come three wide then he got into that lovely rhythm that he’s got, that great stride.”
He had to do it the hard way, but Oliver gave him a peach of a ride during his swansong spring in the saddle in a commanding performance by both horse and hoop on the Caulfield circuit.
“He’s not going to go out without a bang!” Waterhouse said of Oliver.
Alligator Blood ($3.60F) had to come with a wide run to settle second behind the front-runner Alenquer.
With 300m left to travel the reigning champion hit the front with the talented Lindsey Smith-trained Tuvalu ($7) going with him.
Oliver hit the button 150m from the finish and Alligator Blood responded beautifully, surging forward to put a gap on the brave Tuvalu and outrun him late in an impressive one-length victory.
In an eye-catching third making up late ground in a stunning Caulfield Cup trial was Edward Cummings‘ Group 1 winning mare Duais ($26) who hit the line well.
Waterhouse said the likely next-up option for Alligator Blood would be the Group 1 $750,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 7 in preparation for his Group 1 $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) tilt at The Valley on October 28.
“I’ll speak with Adrian, we may go to the Turnbull,” she said.
“Today we backed him up today so that gives us a few more options, but that’s exactly where we want to be.
“We want to be at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate Day.”
2023 Underwood Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||2||ALLIGATOR BLOOD||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Damien Oliver||8||59kg||$3.60F|
|2||5||TUVALU||Lindsey Smith||Ms Jamie Kah||1L||12||59kg||$7|
|3||15||DUAIS||Edward Cummings||Craig Williams||1.2L||7||57kg||$26|
|4||10||SOULCOMBE (GB)||Chris Waller||Blake Shinn||1.4L||5||59kg||$7.50|
|5||9||RIGHT YOU ARE||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Ben Allen||2.15L||2||59kg||$12|
|6||8||WITHOUT A FIGHT (IRE)||Anthony & Sam Freedman||Mark Zahra||2.25L||10||59kg||$4.60|
|7||4||NONCONFORMIST||Grahame Begg||Harry Coffey||2.45L||6||59kg||$41|
|8||13||LINDERMANN||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||2.95L||3||58kg||$12|
|9||12||BANK MAUR||Richard Laming||Jye McNeil||4.45L||1||58kg||$51|
|10||1||VOW AND DECLARE||Danny O’Brien||Billy Egan||4.55L||4||59kg||$201|
|11||7||ALENQUER (FR)||Michael Moroney||Declan Bates||4.65L||9||59kg||$151|
|12||3||MO’UNGA (NZ)||Annabel Neasham||Jamie Mott||7.4L||15||59kg||$41|
|13||14||ATTRITION||Mitchell Freedman||Ben Melham||7.7L||14||58kg||$9|
|14||6||SMOKIN’ ROMANS (NZ)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||John Allen||8.45L||13||59kg||$71|
|15||16||LUNAR FLARE||Grahame Begg||Michael Dee||10.2L||11||57kg||$151|
|17e||ALASKAN GOD||Daniel Morton||0|
|11||DUKE DE SESSA (IRE)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Ethan Brown||0|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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