Alligator Blood has emerged as one of the favourites for the Caulfield Guineas (Racing Photos)
His introduction to the spring scene might have been a belated one but the Queensland-trained Alligator Blood is peaking when it counts.
A month after Alligator Blood had to be withdrawn on raceday in Sydney because of his antics, trainer David Vandyke has a legitimate Group One Caulfield Guineas chance in his stable.
As high maintenance as he is, Alligator Blood has emerged as one of the favourites for the $2 million Guineas over 1600m at Caulfield on October 12 with a Group Three Prelude win over 1400m at the track.
In claiming the scalp of Guineas favourite and Adelaide weight-for-age winner Dalasan, Alligator Blood looked right at home in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of Melbourne carnival racing.
Alligator Blood extended his unbeaten record to five, passing the sternest test of a new campaign that has already tested Vandyke’s horsemanship and patience.
A gelding, Alligator Blood fell to pieces in the stalls before he was scheduled to run in the Ming Dynasty Quality at Rosehill last month in what was supposed to be the first run outside his home State.
For Vandyke it was an untimely reminder of Alligator Blood’s antics.
“Alligator Blood has an interesting personality,” Vandyke said.
“He almost has got a bit of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). He is always looking to do something and take in his surroundings.”
Vandyke and jockey Ryan Maloney regrouped and Alligator Blood returned to Brisbane to be prepared for a likely make-or-break start in the Guineas Prelude on Sunday.
They took the added precaution of making a special trip to Caulfield five days beforehand for a trackwork gallop that doubled as a familiarisation exercise.
“After the carry-on at Rosehill we thought we better go and bring him to the track here and see how he behaves,” Vandyke said.
“Mick Kent was kind enough to lend us his pony, organise floating and he’s been an instrumental part in getting this horse here today. I can’t thank him enough.”
Bred by Baramul Stud’s Gerry Harvey, Alligator Blood will carry into the Guineas a pedigree that is seemingly tailormade for high-level racing despite his sale for a modest $55,000 at last year’s Magic Millions sales.
His sire is All Too Hard, the 2012 Caulfield Guineas winner over Pierro who stands at Vinery Stud in the Hunter Valley.
On this influence alone, Vandyke expects Alligator Blood to be right in the thick of the Guineas action.
“I can’t wait until we get out to the mile and do what his dad did,” the trainer said.
All Too Hard won the Guineas at his eighth start for the Hawkes Racing stable and ended his three-year-old spring term when runner-up to Ocean Park in the Cox Plate.
He was retired on the highest of notes with three successive autumn Group One wins, culminating in an All Aged Stakes success over 1400m at Randwick.
It hasn’t been as easy at stud as it was on the racetrack for All Too Hard with Group One glory elusive for his progeny.
Alligator Blood, the 10th stakes winner for his sire, is heading the right way to correct that anomaly – with the backing of a maternal page that is rated among the best in the Australian stud book.
His dam is Lake Superior, an unraced Encosta De Lago mare and a daughter of VRC Oaks and Australasian Oaks placegetter Kylikwong.
Lake Superior’s grand-dam is the champion South African filly Tracy’s Element, the mother of the 2009-10 Australian horse of the year Typhoon Tracy.
Alligator Blood is the last – and easily the best – of three foals from Lake Superior to make it to the races.
The fact that Alligator Blood is the ace foal is appropriate because he is named for one of the oldest terms in poker.
A poker player with alligator blood is supposedly one who refuses to give up, whether they are winning or losing.
They defend stoically in the face of defeat and conversely they keep attacking their opponents when they are up.
It’s a description that seems more than apt for this three-year-old who keeps rising to the challenge, ensuring Vandyke holds an impressive hand going into the Guineas.