Rivalry brewing: I'm Thunderstruck and Alligator Blood lock horns again
There is a strong likelihood that the winner of this week’s Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Sandown will go into the $5 Million Sharp EIT All-Star Mile as favourite on March 18 at The Valley.
The $750,000 Group 1 has attracted a star-studded lineup of nine, with Weight For Age guns I’m Thunderstruck and Alligator Blood heading the top of the market, $3 and $4.60 respectively in Ladbrokes all-in betting as of Tuesday afternoon.
The pair met five times in the Spring, with the head to head going the way of I’m Thunderstruck, 4-1. It could be advantage the Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr. trained gelding again this weekend given he has the fitness edge on Alligator Blood, having run in the C F Orr, however, there will be those mounting a strong case that fresh is best for Alligator Blood, and he will be better suited to 1400 metres around the tighter turning Sandown Lakeside circuit.
The most intriguing thing about the rivalry I’m Thunderstruck and Alligator Blood has established, is that their racing styles are on opposite ends of the scale. I’m Thunderstruck, a noted backmarker, has made his fame by launching home from well back in the field, while Alligator Blood, in true Waterhouse & Bott fashion, has re-invented himself as tough warhorse who sits up on the speed.
Their most evenly matched contest came in last year’s Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), when I’m Thunderstruck chased Alligator Blood down in an epic finale and prevailed by a short half head, with Mo’unga a further three lengths back in third.
Alligator Blood could get it all his own way in front again this Saturday too. Gentleman Roy, a noted frontrunner was expected to run this Saturday, but has pulled out. He was first past the post last start in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Sandown Hillside before Damian Lane successfully protested on Jacquinot, with the upheld result falling the way of the three-year-old after stewards ruled his line of running was impeded in a decisive manner.
Filling third place was Australian Bloodstock import Nugget, trained by Victoria’s leading trainers Ciaron Maher & Eustace, while Mr Brightside (5th) and Aegon (6th) weren’t far away either. All three will again put their All-Star Mile credentials on the line on Saturday, with the latter almost certainly having to claim the ‘win and you’re in’ race to get a start in the All-Star Mile, currently 32nd in voting.
The Sydney brigade coming down to Melbourne to contest the race consist of just three, two of whom go into the race first up. Laws Of Indices and My Oberon will represent the Annabel Neasham stable, while Mr Mozart for Team Hawkes will go around as the outsider of the field.
While the Futurity Stakes is a ballot exempt race into the Sharp EIT All-Star Mile, there are four horses already in the top 10 in voting running, who happen to be the four leading chances this Saturday. They are Alligator Blood (1st in voting), I’m Thunderstruck (2nd), Mr Brightside (5th) and Nugget (6th).
If any of the four are able to win on Saturday yet gain a start into the Sharp EIT All-Star Mile via fan-vote anyway, it will mean Racing Victoria obtain another wildcard to choose a horse outside of voting. The only other win and you’re in race runs next week at Flemington, the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m). That is where surprise exclusion Tuvalu will head, bypassing the Group 1 this week.
The Futurity Stakes promises to be another exciting clash of the titans, with all roads leading to Australia’s Richest Mile at The Valley on March 18. Make sure you vote for your favourite horse at www.allstarmile.com.au, and don’t miss your chance to win $250,000 as an Owners Ambassador.