Sydney horseman Anthony Cummings is eyeing consecutive Victoria Derby trophies having put his progressive juvenile Drago on the path towards the Melbourne Cup Carnival classic this November.
Last spring Cummings celebrated a victory in the $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington Racecourse with his subsequent The BMW champion Fiveandahalfstar.
This year he is keen for another shot at the three-year-olds’ feature this time with his Danehill Dancer colt Drago.
Drago debuted with a sixth to Sidestep in the Group 2 Pago Pago Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill in March before being stepped straight up to Group 1 company.
After running four lengths away fourth to Guelph in the Group 1 ATC Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) at Randwick in mid-April they finished much closer a fortnight later in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m).
Going up to the mile looked to suit them as there was only three quarters of a length separating the fourth placed Drago and Guelph who completed the Sires Produce – Champagne Stakes double.
Finally Cummings’ youngster broke their maiden status at start number four back at Rosehill on May 11 with a big four length win against an easier field over 1800m in the Juvenile Stayer.
Their obvious liking for more distance has Cummings keen to target this year’s Victoria Derby on Saturday November 2 which kicks off the famous four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival.
The trainer is especially hopeful Drago will develop into a Group 1 winning three-year-old as Fiveandahalfstar could only finish third in their corresponding 1800m Rosehill run last May before their Victoria Derby winning campaign.
Drago is gearing up for their new season return back in work along with a number of Cummings’ other major carnival hopefuls at his Randwick stables.
They will likely kick-off their new preparation in Sydney targeting the traditional Derby lead-up races including the $400,000 Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on October 12.
“It’s a matter of what fits along the way. There are different ways of going about getting there these days,” Cummings said.
“But the aim is the Victoria Derby.”
A for Fiveandahalfstar, the Hotel Grand gelding was injured after their Group 1 The BMW (2400m) triumph in April.
Their damaged fetlock will be inspected by veterinarians this week that will give Cummings a better guide to when they could return to racing.