Alligator Blood and Ryan Maloney win the 2020 Kennedy Australian Guineas (Reg Ryan/ Racing Photos)
Is Alligator Blood the best 3YO in Australia? Such is the nature of horse racing that you’re only as good as your last start, but a fairly solid argument can be put forward that Saturday’s Group One Australian Guineas winner is the most exciting.
What about the most popular? You bet!
Named after a poker term to describe someone who is playing fearlessly, Alligator Blood has a never-say-die attitude about him and it’s that fighting spirit which captures the imagination of racegoers everywhere.
Despite winning the Magic Millions 3YO Guineas in January and then denying Kiwi star, Catalyst, in the Group Three CS Hayes Stakes on 15 February, some thought Alligator Blood might meet his Waterloo over the 1600m of the Guineas.
After all, Alligator Blood’s ONLY defeat in 11 starts was a second to Super Seth in last October’s Caulfield Guineas when pipped right on the wire.
But it’s much more than just the horse. The personal and professional problems faced by trainer, David Vandyke and jockey, Ryan Maloney are well documented, while part-owner, Allan Endresz had tackled a years long battle with the Australian government.
Much closer to home though, Endresz’s wife, Joy, is currently undergoing extensive treatment for cancer.
“Winning a horse race is one thing, but it’s what the whole experience means to so many people which is another thing entirely,” Endresz remarks.
“You obviously get flooded with well-wishers after a big win, but on Saturday at Flemington I had one woman come up and tell me she was in remission and was inspired by Alligator Blood’s success, while another who congratulated me is the grandmother of a young child with a brain tumour.
“People like to get attached to something and everywhere I go they all want to talk about Alligator Blood.”
Following his Australian Guineas triumph, Alligator Blood is next likely to appear in the $5 million All-Star Mile at Caulfield on 14 March, although Endresz says a decision will be made in the next few days.
“This bloke really gives his all and he was a bit wobbly after the Guineas,” Endresz reveals. “He’s fine now but the horse has been up a long time and David has spaced his runs to perfection. It will be up to David as to whether he goes to Caulfield or not.
“Point is, while the money is good, that’s not what it’s all about. We purchased Alligator Blood for $55,000 as a yearling so we were all thrilled even after he won his first race on the Sunshine Coast,” Endresz points out.
“We knocked back an offer of $3.2 million for the horse last year and now he’s gone on to win $2.8 million. He’s not going anywhere in a hurry: we’d obviously love him to keep winning but a loss in the All-Star wouldn’t be the end of the world.”
For Endresz though, winning the Group One was the pinnacle … at least thus far.
“I’d made a deal with the co-owners, my uncle Jeff and aunty Robyn, that they could share all the trophies between them, but I’d get to keep the Group One trophy,” Endresz explains.
“They’ve had to go out and build bloody shelves to accommodate the other trophies and my biggest fear leading into the Guineas was that I thought my cupboard might have to remain bare for another 12 months!
“So exciting though. I was holding it together pretty well until they blasted Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ over the loudspeakers at Flemington.”
Trainer of Alligator Blood, David Vandyke with jockey Ryan Maloney after winning the Kennedy Australian Guineas (Reg Ryan/ Racing Photos)
All-Star or not, Alligator Blood will shortly head for a spell, much to the concern of Endresz.
“He just loves racing … David reckons the horse has an equine version of ADHD and prefers life in the stable. I might have to camp out in the paddock with him for a couple of months!”
Endresz wonders. “We really haven’t seen the bottom of this horse and we’re currently undergoing negotiations with Everest slot holders about a start in that race ($14 million over 1200m at Royal Randwick on 17 October), while a tilt at the ($7.5 million) Golden Eagle (over 1500m) two weeks later could also be on the cards.”
If Endresz had his ‘druthers’ though, Alligator Blood would follow a Cox Plate path.
“I’m a real history buff and it was a 100 years ago that the legendary, Man o’War was putting bums on seats all over America. Man o’War won his first six, just like Alligator Blood, got beaten a lip in his seventh and then won his next 14. Only nine more to go for Al!,” Endresz says with a laugh.
“Seriously though, race crowds are diminishing and this is the type of horse that can bring people back to the track. As long as he remains healthy he’ll keep racing and we won’t be selling him off overseas.
“You can’t beat racing in Australia.”
While it was a memorable day for Endresz and co. it was also a ‘write home to dad’ result for Alligator Blood’s sire, All Too Hard.
The Vinery Stud based All Too Hard – a 4-time Group One winning half brother to Black Caviar – had by far his best day at the office with Alligator Blood yielding the stallion his first Group One winner, while earlier in the day speedy 2YO filly, Hard Rock Girl, won the Listed Cinderella Stakes over 1050m at Morphettville, before, some 45 minutes later, Dawn Dawn won her first stakes race in the Group Two Guy Walter Proven Thoroughbreds Stakes over 1400m at Royal Randwick.
“That’s another great thing about the Australian industry … you get a stallion like All Too Hard that stands at a reasonable fee and you can buy one of his yearlings for $55,000 that goes on to win a Group One,” Endresz adds.
“We bought a couple of All Too Hards at the Gold Coast Magic Millions in January, but we’ve also got a 2YO by the stallion that was purchased for $180,000 at Easter last year and we’ve called him Crypto Tycoon.
“Crypto Tycoon has a 4 x 4 cross to Last Tycoon and a 4 x 4 to Green Desert – yes, I’m a pedigree buff too! – and David reckons the 2YO is going as well as Alligator Blood was at the same stage of their careers.”
By Endresz’s account, Alligator Blood has flown him to the moon … who knows, Crypto Tycoon might pay for the journey back.