Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Anthony Cummings’ Sydney-based youngster Drago is gearing up to make their three-year-old debut in the $125,000 Group 3 Up And Coming Stakes (1300m) at Warwick Farm on Saturday as they head toward a Group 1 run this spring carnival.
While Cummings is yet to map out their exact spring agenda, the trainer knows he’s got a progressive type on his hands with Danehill Dancer colt Drago who was competitive at elite level against his own kind last season.
A $55,000 bargain buy from last year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sales, Drago has earned more than double that in prize money over their four promising starts as a two-year-old during the autumn.
They were thrown into the deep end right from the get go debuting with a sixth to Sidestep in the Group 2 Pago Pago Stakes (1200m) at the end of March.
Next-up they were tested at elite level and far from disgraced when four lengths away fourth to the Peter Snowden-trained winner Guelph in the Group 1 ATC Sires Produce Stakes (1400m).
They had a wide barrier 12 (of 13) draw for that and it was the same for their next run when drawn in the carpark (13 of 13) for the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m).
Guelph completed a Group 1 double by winning the Champange and Drago finished fourth in their wake again, this time defeated under a length obviously enjoying the extra distance in the mile feature.
Proving to be a stayer in the making Drago was last seen winning he Juvenile Stayer at Rosehill on May 11 over 1800m by a commanding four lengths.
There are a number of nice options for them this time in then including the $1 million Group 1 The BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 12 and even the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley a fortnight later.
Should they continue to rise through the ranks and show ability over extra metres the obvious target however becomes the $1 million Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on November 2 during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Cummings won the Victoria Derby last spring with Fiveandahalfstar.
The 1300m of Saturday’s Up And Coming Stakes 2013 then could be a little sharp for them, but Cummings still believes them a winning chance as does jockey Peter Robl riding them for the first time since their debut.
“You’ve got to be mindful that he is first-up over 1300 metres but he is progressing nicely,” Robl said this week according to AAP.
“He is definitely a winning chance.
“He will improve with the run and he will appreciate further but he has the ability to win this race on Saturday (as) he has definitely come back a more mature horse.”
Their nice experience around the best of this crop of three-year-olds has seen Drago installed at the top of the Up And Coming Stakes odds for Saturday as the $4.80 co-favourite with the Chris Waller-trained Kiwi expat Vilanova.
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