Alligator delivers 150th Group 1 winner for trailblazer Waterhouse
Alligator Blood (All Too Hard) capped a remarkable resurrection in form to return to the Group 1 winner’s enclosure when striking for victory in the time-honoured Stradbroke Handicap (Gr 1, 1400m) at Eagle Farm yesterday, more than two years after his first elite-level success in the 2020 Australian Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m).
T he win for the enigmatic five-year-old delivered a 150th Group 1 success (and her first in the Stradbroke) for his maverick trainer Gai Waterhouse. It comes six months after Alligator Blood was switched to the stable of Hall of Fame inductee Waterhouse and her co-trainer Adrian Bott in a bid to turn around his ailing form, which saw him without a win since his elite-level win at Flemington, when trained by David Vandyke.
“Incredible for Gai and Adrian – 150 Group 1s for Gai now, Adrian and Gai ‘round about 18 or 20 Group 1s,” stable representative Neil Paine told Racing.com. “Gai’s first Stradbroke [winner] and Alligator Blood back to his best.” Tim Clark settled Alligator Blood in the second half of the field, but made menacing progress on the outside entering the turn for home. Circling wide into the centre of the track at the top of the straight, Alligator Blood was set out in pursuit of leader Rothfire (Rothesay), who earned success in the JJ Atkins on this card two years ago.
The five-year old swept past Rothfire at the 100-metre mark and had enough in hand to hold off Private Eye (Al Maher) in the closing stages to record a length margin of victory. Rothfire held on for third, two and three-quarter lengths from the winner, with Isotope (Deep Field) a length further back in fourth.
Alligator Blood, who rose to rapid prominence for previous trainer Vandyke, won nine of his first 11 starts, but was infamously disqualified at the Magic Millions meeting in January 2020 for a failed drugs test. Having finished second in the Caulfield Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) in the spring of 2019, Alligator Blood won the Australian Guineas the following autumn, but had failed to win in eight starts thereafter, which included a three-race stint with Sunshine Coast trainer Billy Healey.
However, the horse made a delayed return to action in May, having undergone surgery for Kissing Spine disease, while he was banned from running in New South Wales due to owner Alan Endresz’s undischarged bankruptcy status. The success was an emotional one for Endresz, whose wife Joy it is believed has just days to live as she fights against bowel cancer.
Tim Clark rode Alligator Blood when runner-up in the BRC Sprint (Gr 3, 1300m) first-up this campaign, and labelled it a ‘special’ performance. “He began well, but as expected there was a fair bit of tempo and not only did I not have the horse to be in that speed battle, I knew if I attempted to be with them I’d have nothing left at the end,” Clark said. “So, I was able to slide across back in behind them and it ended up working out lovely.
I got the back of [7th placed] Ayrton and that horse took me everywhere I needed to go. “On straightening, it was a matter of just being patient, letting him build through his gears and I thought all he has to do is find off the bridle. “He showed a great turn of foot. I haven’t had a lot to do with the horse’s career, but that was a pretty special performance.” Alligator Blood (5 g All Too Hard – Lake Superior by Encosta De Lago) took his record to ten wins from 20 starts and more than $2.8 million in prize-money.
He is the second winner and final foal of five for the unraced Encosta De Lago (Fairy King) mare Lake Superior, who is a half-sister to Listed winner Cantonese (Redoute’s Choice) as well as the stakes placed Chateau Margaux (Redoute’s Choice) and Monteux (Medaglia D’Oro). Alligator Blood was a $55,000 buy from Gerry Harvey’s Baramul Stud draft at the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.