While Anthony Cummings has confirmed he’ll shoot for back-to-back victories in the Victoria Derby 2013 this year that’s not the only Group 1 spring feature he’s got rising three-year-old Drago set for.
Last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival Cummings celebrated a win in the $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington Racecourse in early November with his $40 roughie Fiveandahalfstar.
The subsequent Group 1 The BMW winner may be out of the spring this year due to an ongoing fetlock injury, but Cummings still has a strong contingent ready to make their assault on the famous Victorian festival.
One of his top chances of taking home some gold is Danehill Dancer colt Drago.
The lightly-raced juvenile broke their maiden status at start number four last time out on May 11 with an eye-catching four length victory, carrying a hefty 558kg, in the $85,000 Juvenile Stayer Handicap (1800m) at Rosehill.
Even before that run however Cummings had them pegged as a smart stayer in the making and was eyeing the Victoria Derby this coming Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Drago was thrown into the deep end right from the get go debuting on March 30 with a sixth in the Group 2 Pago Pago Stakes (1200m).
From there they contested successive Group 1 autumn features at Royal Randwick finishing fourth to the Peter Snowden Guelph in both the ATC Sires Produce Stakes and the Champagne Stakes.
Their first Group 1 assignment saw them cross four lengths off the winning but they began to show their staying potential over the mile for the Champagne this time beaten under a length.
While the Derby is the grand final goal for Drago Cummings would ideally like to see them go into that field with a Group 1 win already beside their name.
Cummings has a very high opinion of Drago and his ambitious spring plans for the youngster reflect that as he eyes the majors including the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 12 and the weight-for-age $3.5 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley a fortnight later.
While Drago is set to top the futures Victoria Derby odds once released, in the ante-post Cox Plate betting markets they’re yet to even be added into the mix.
But before Cox Plates the horse will resume in Sydney against their own age in the $1 million Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 13 with a possible second-up run in the $400,000 Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) which is held at Randwick on the same day the Caulfield Guineas runs in Melbourne.
“The plan, roughly, is to start first-up in the Golden Rose and then on towards perhaps the Spring Champion, but we’ve got a toss-up of the Spring Champion or the Caulfield Guineas as the next goal,” Cummings said.
“The races in the interim will be determined by how he’s going and what fits in with the decisions that we make, but the Golden Rose certainly 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.”
At this stage Cummings is thrilled with Drago’s prospect saying they would trial in about a month and rating them as good a staying type as Fiveandahalfstar, if not better.
“You look back and compare and Fiveandahalfstar ran fourth in the (Listed) Fernhill (Stakes) and this guy’s run fourth in the Champagne,” Cummings said.
“You’d have to think that he’s shown more promise at the same stage.”
As well as Drago some of Cummings’ other major players this spring will include Fastnet Rock filly Scandiva who was second in the ATC Sires Produce and stakes winning colt Never Can Tell who are heading towards the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) on Derby Day.
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