The 2013 Victoria Derby field was released this morning and trainer Anthony Cummings will have two opportunities to become the first trainer in recent history to win the Group 1 event in back-to-back years.
Cummings won the 2012 edition of the race with outsider Fiveandahalfstar and will have to cause another surprise at Flemington on Saturday; with Drago ($41) and Thunder Fantasy ($51) both available at lengthy 2013 Victoria Derby odds.
Drago was considered one of the favourites for the Victoria Derby after he started his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with an impressive second place finish in the Group 3 Up And Coming Stakes (1300m) but has failed to perform at his best for the remainder of his preparation.
The Danehill Dancer colt finished an unlucky ninth in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) and was beaten as a short-priced favourite in the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) before producing disappointing efforts in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) and Group 2 Mitchelton Wines Vase (2040m).
Cummings told Through Media that a change of tactics for Drago in the Mitchelton Wines Vase at Moonee Valley last Saturday did not suit the three-year-old and he is hopeful that the colt will improve when he steps-up to 2500 metres for the first time this weekend.
“Drago was ridden little bit upside down last time and in the circumstances I thought that he did a good job,” Cummings said.
“He has had a topsy-turvy preparation so far, things have not fallen his way, but going to 2500m is what he has been looking for this entire prep.
“He finds that on Saturday and he has come out of his race really well, really bright and fresh, which was one of the risks of that aggressive ride.
“I am pleased with where he is up to in his preparation and I am looking forward to this Saturday.”
The lightly-raced Thunder Fantasy has not received the hype of his high-profile stablemate but has performed well this campaign and Cummings is confident that the Lucky Owners colt will not be making up the numbers in the 2013 Victoria Derby field.
The three-year-old started his campaign with dominant victories at Hawkesbury and Newcastle and was far from disgraced when stepped-up in class in the Listed Dulcify Quality (1600m) and Spring Champion Stakes.
“Thunder Fantasy in the Derby will run a really nice race,” Cummings said when asked about his leading chances at Flemington on Saturday.
Cummings is chasing his second win in the Victoria Derby but will need to string together several victories in the time-honored race to equal his famous father Bart Cummings who has won the race on five previous occasions.