Toorak Handicap and Golden Eagle winner I’m Thunderstruck added a second Group 1 victory to his name on Saturday at Flemington, overrunning Alligator Blood in a heart-stopping conclusion to the $1 million PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m).
Tim Clark rode the perfect race aboard Alligator Blood ($5), with the 2020 Australian Guineas winner afforded an uncontested lead through the first half of the race.
Alligator Blood slid clear around the home turn and had his seven rivals chasing, with I’m Thunderstruck ($2.60 favourite), who jumped from the inside barrier, pocketed three back along the fence under Mark Zahra.
With I’m Thunderstruck’s propensity to lay inwards, Zahra rode for luck along the inside rail, squeezed underneath the pack and then slowly but surely set about catching Alligator Blood.
Winning trainer Mick Price said post-race: “He was pretty brave wasn’t he? He was in an awkward spot again, behind heels, and Alligator Blood was off and gone.
“I thought, ‘He’s probably the best horse in the race Alligator Blood, we’re not going to run him down, but it’s probably the beauty of Flemington.”
Last year’s Makybe Diva Stakes runner-up Mo’unga ($10) finished third while Cascadian ($4.20) closed from his rearward settling position in the eight-horse field for fourth.
“It was probably the last place I wanted to be, then there was a little sniff on the outside and Ollie (Damien Oliver) didn’t have any of that,” Zahra said.
“The good thing was when I went back to the fence, for a horse that lays in, he was able to use the fence.
“Alligator Blood, it did kick strong, and not many horses would have run him down. I got to within half-a-length and I thought ‘I’m not sure if I’ve got much left’, but he lifted again.
“It was massive win, a great performance and a great effort by the horse.”
Sportsbet reacted to the Makybe Diva Stakes result by cutting I’m Thunderstruck’s price for the $5m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) from $13 into $7 third favourite.
I’m Thunderstruck provided Price with his 40th G1 winner after his first came with Rustic Dream in the 1999 Futurity Stakes, as well as his fifth in partnership with Michael Kent Jnr.
Price confirmed post-race that I’m Thunderstruck will have two lead-up runs ahead of the Cox Plate, the G1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Sandown on September 25 and the G1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 8.