There's Not Tears for Crocodile Kid

A $3000 bargain snapped up by Craig Saligari and Chris Plozza just over 15 months ago has paid handsome dividends and is directly responsible for them owning Crocodile Kid, who is attempting to notch a hat-trick of wins when he contests the Retravision 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Crocodile Kid, a striking black gelding, is awkwardly drawn at barrier five in a field of eight in the 1730m sprint in which he will clash with several smart pacers including Stefsbest, Ocean Ridge, The Dali Express and Sergeant Oats.

However, he is a brilliant sprinter who has revealed great versatility in winning in fast time over 1730m on each of the past two Friday nights when handled skilfully by Michael Grantham.

After a most encouraging fifth behind Ocean Ridge over 2130m at his WA debut three Friday nights ago, Crocodile Kid flourished in the following two weeks, setting the pace and winning at a 1.55.2 rate from Red October and Robb Stark and then racing three back on the pegs before sprinting home fast to beat Mon Lillies and Saleahs Comand at a 1.55.4 rate.   

“He’s not just a miler,” said Saligari, who prepares the Victorian-bred six-year-old at Wanneroo. “He’s versatile and able to run all distances, with the right sort of runs. He is a good leader as well as being a good sit-sprinter.”

Sailgari and Plozza are certainly not shedding any tears at their decision to outlay $30,000 to purchase the Armbro Operative gelding who is the first and only one of four foals out of the Safely Kept mare Crocodile Tears to have raced.

Crocodile Tears took 44 starts to record her first victory (in an R0 event in Albury in December 2010) and managed just four country-class wins from 66 starts in Victoria. She is related to Onaventure, who had 79 starts in WA for seven wins between 2005 and 2008.

Crocodile Kid is bred to be a good winner. His ancestry on his dam’s side traces back in a direct path to the mighty Aachen, who won at each of his first 20 starts (from February 1956 to December 1958). This sequence was an Australian record until 1970 when Lucky Creed recorded 24 consecutive wins. The record of 29 straight wins is now held by West Australian champion San Simeon.

New Zealand mare Connenora produced Aachen and there is a direct line of mares culminating with Crocodile Tears.

The current Saligari-Plozza success story began almost 16 months ago when they bought Bob Wheel from Ryan Bell for $3000. “I was doing a lot of trackwork with Ryan at the time,” Saligari explained. “Ryan basically had had enough of him. He was trackworking really well but wasn’t performing well in races. He offered Bob Wheel to us for $3000, and we took him.”

Bob Wheel had won six races for Bell, including the $25,000 WA Sales Classic for three-year-olds in March 2017. He enjoyed his new environment in Wanneroo and won at his third start for his new owners, starting at 20/1, racing in the breeze and winning easily to earn $4,163.       

And then, early this year Bob Wheel was successful at Gloucester Park from barriers No. 9 and No. 8 when he paid $64.10 and $51 on the tote. Before Bob Wheel contests the second event at Gloucester Park this week he had raced 36 times for Plozza and Saligari for six wins, three seconds, three thirds and $61,527 in prizemoney.

“We own two-thirds of Bob Wheel and Dad has a third share,” said Saligari. “Mum and Dad have been able to buy a car out of the winnings and recently Chris thought it was time to get another horse. She made a lot of contacts and there were a few on the Trading Ring that she had a look at. And then she got on Messenger and texted a few people who have big stables over east.

“We were hoping to get a nice horse and bring him on one-on-one at a smaller stable and give him all the care he needs. We came across Crocodile Kid and went through all his performances. Looking at his replays we were impressed with his gate speed and his final quarter was always good. And he can do things tough, as well.

“He breezed and ran 1.54 in Sydney and he won a race (over 1609m) at Menangle, going 1.53.2, coming home in 26.7sec. That run spurred Chris on to make the decision to buy him for $30,000.” Crocodile Kid raced 50 times for ten wins in Victoria for his breeder-owner-trainer-reinsman Noel Tyndall before having nine starts at Menangle for prominent trainer Kevin Pizzuto for one win. He is proving to be a great buy, with his three runs at Gloucester Park producing a fifth and two wins for stakes of $22,266.