Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Black Hearts & Alligator Blood–Underwood Stakes Day Review

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Black Heart Bart on his way to winning the Underwood Stakes

The winners of two races on Sunday gave me the opportunity to create a dramatic- you might say piratical – title for this blog post.

With the AFL Grand Final the dominant sporting event on Saturday in Melbourne, the feature Underwood Stakes meeting was held on  Sunday at Caulfield.

Arriving at the racecourse around 1.20pm I was in plenty of time for Race 3 of the program.

This was the not terribly interesting Le Pine Funerals Handicap, a race over 1700 metres.

Having his first start in the East, the West Australian horse Pushin’ Shapes outclassed the locals by winning at big odds (60/1) by 1½ lengths from Masculino and Vassilator.

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Pushin’ Shapes overtakes Masculino racing to the finish line

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Pushin’ Shapes on his way to the barriers

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Masculino on his way to the barriers

As the races were being run at 30 minute intervals, the afternoon flashed by very quickly, so Race 4, the Beck Probuild Handicap contestants were soon heading to the barriers.

Rox The Castle started as favourite and led throughout until he was overtaken by second favourite Admiral’s Joker in the straight and beaten by a length. Waging War ran third.

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Admiral’s Joker about to overtake Rox the Castle as they head for the finish

The next three races were more interesting than the preceding two, these being the Group 3 Guineas Preludes and the feature Group 1 Underwood Stakes.

I must admit I’d never heard of Alligator Blood, the winner of the Caulfield Guineas Prelude.  That’s not surprising as he’d had all his previous starts (which he’d won) in Queensland.  He was well fancied by punters, but Dalasan started as the favourite and finished second, out gunned by Alligator Blood who won by ¾ length.  Early in the race Your Deel lost his rider and joined the race riderless, though didn’t cause any intereference.

In case you’re curious about Alligator Blood’s name, it’s a Poker term where the player ignores all risks and fearlessly goes for broke.

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Alligator Blood zooms up the straight

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Alligator Blood on his way to the barriers

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Dalasan strolls to the barriers

Three Godolphin fillies – Lyre, Flit and Tenley - were the fancied runners in the Thousand Guineas Prelude, but none of them featured in the finish. The first three home were at big odds and the trifecta paid a fortune – over $21,000 in fact.

Acting was the winner, defeating Southbank and Barbie’s Fox by 1½ lengths, after leading from the start.

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Acting leads from Barbie’s Fox and Snapdancer (4th place)

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Acting in full flight down the straight

It certainly wasn’t a day for favourites to win, with only two winning on Sunday, and such was the case in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes, where Black Heart Bart won at 100/1.  He’s now nine years of age and was retired in October 2018 after running 16th in the Toorak Handicap. However, he was brought back into training recently with a new trainer, but his form was nothing to write home about. He was given no chance and I thought he was past it.

In his heyday back in 2016/2017 he won six Group 1 races including the 2016 Underwood Stakes, so he was one of the better qualified horses in the 2019 Underwood Stakes.

Homesman was the hot favourite, but couldn’t catch Bart who won by a head. Gailo Chop  finished third and old trooper Hartnell ran fourth again.

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Black Heart Bart on his way to the starting gates

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Homesman on his way to the barriers

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Gailo Chop on his way to the barriers

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Black Heart Bart returning to scale a happy Brad Rawiller on his back

The weather on Sunday was fairly kind, mild and mostly overcast though the sun shone quite regularly on the track.

Next Saturday it’s back to Flemington for the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes. Winx was the big attraction last year, and the year before, but this time around we have Mystic Journey and Avilius to look forward to. And Sunlight, who finished a very creditable third in the Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley last Friday night, will hopefully be taking on Santa Ana Lane in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes.

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