A win in the Group 1 $500,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday would be a fairy tale result for Caulfield trained three year old Sonntag.
Rookie trainer Henry Dwyer has done an outstanding job to get Sonntag to a Queensland Derby after the Teofilo gelding was only a 50- 50 chance of ever racing again after suffering a lower leg injury.
The Darley cast off suffered a tendon sheath infection shortly after entering Dwyer’s stable and had to be rushed to the veterinary surgeon for treatment.
“He was acutely lame in his near hind leg and they found a small puncture wound in the back of his pastern and that became infected,” part-owner, RSN radio host Shane Anderson, told AAP.
“They had to rush him into surgery to flush out the tendon sheath and it was a 50/50 chance that he will be able to come through it.”
After a lengthy layoff, Dwyer was able to recoup the connections $58,000 purchase price plus some of the vet expenses with two wins from his last three starts with his victory at Caulfield on May 17 over 2000m cementing a trip to Queensland for the Derby.
Anderson is full of praise for the young trainer in the way that he has nursed Sonntag back to health as well as qualifying him for the Winter Carnival three year old Classic.
“Henry has done an amazing job to find the horse then get him to a stage where we can even think of running him in a Group One race,” Anderson said.
Dwyer had thoughts of a Derby start before heading to Caulfield but that win over the 2000m clinched the trip north.
“That was the idea before, if he ran well, and I don’t think we can change that now,” Dwyer said after the Caulfield win.
“He’s a very clean-winded horse. He’s fit. He’s well. ”
Sonntag will be stepping up dramatically in class and distance and will be facing up against some seasoned three year olds who have already been competing at Group level.
The Queensland Derby field will almost be a re-run of the Group 3 $150,000 Mullins Lawyers Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Doomben on May 24 which saw the Chris Waller trained Vilanova return to the winner’s stall beating Victorian colt Pinstripe Lane, locals Rudy and Amexed and Kiwi filly Telepathic.
Sonntag has been marked a $13 chance for the Queensland Derby with Vilanova the $4.50 favourite just ahead of Pinstripe Lane and the John Sargent trained Elusive Runner at $5 and the two Kiwi fillies Telepathic and Rock Diva at $9 while Rudy and Amexed have been rated $11 chances.