Anthony Cummings quest to claim back to back Victoria Derbys gained momentum today with three year old Drago stepping out at the Randwick barrier trials.
Cummings was able to win last year’s Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington with Fiveandahalfstar coming off the back of two restricted class wins in Sydney.
Although Drago didn’t star in the 800m trial when fourth to the Peter Snowden trained Kuroshio, the Danehill Dancer colt still has plenty of time to regain his winning form.
Drago stamped his Spring potential with his four lengths maiden win over 1800m at Rosehill at the end of the Sydney Autumn Carnival earlier this year.
Cummings had tested the colt in the top two year old races over the Carnival and Drago showed the Randwick trainer that a tilt at the Victoria Derby wasn’t out of the question.
Drago wasn’t out of his depth when fourth to Guelph in the Group 1 $500,000 Inglis Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on April 13 and then was only beaten three quarters of a length when fourth again to Guelph in the Group 1 $400,000 Moet & Chandon 150th Champagne Stakes (1600m) At Randwick a fortnight later.
Cummings has that much confidence in Drago’s potential that he will nominate the three year old for a host of Group 1 races throughout the Spring beginning with the Group 1 $1m Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill on September 14.
“The plan is to start first-up in the Golden Rose and the races in the interim will be determined by how he’s going and what fits in with the decisions that we make,” Cummings told Racing Victoria.
“The Golden Rose is the main three-year-old race here and he’ll be in that and then we’ve got some choices to make going forward.
“He’ll be nominated for the Cox Plate, he’ll be nominated for the Derby and the Spring Champion, but we’ll just let his program unfold as it does.
“The way he’s come back, though, makes all of those nominations worthwhile.”
While Drago will be heading towards the Spring riches, last season’s star Fiveandahalfstar will be rested before making a return to racetrack in the Autumn.
Fiveandahalfstar sustained a fetlock injury in winning the Group 1 $2.25m The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill on April 6 and Cummings feels that the four year old needs more time to make a full recovery.