Former North Melbourne premiership coach Denis Pagan out to add another Victoria Derby trophy to the cabinet

One of 2020’s great Australian sporting stories could have a sequel.

Denis Pagan completed an amazing feat when he won the Group 1 Victoria Derby at Flemington with Johnny Get Angry to go along with his two AFL premierships as a coach with North Melbourne.

Pagan achieved what most trainers fail to do in a lifetime when he notched a Group 1 win within four months of saddling his first runner.

Pagan has set Turn It Up Tommy to emulate Johnny Get Angry in this year’s Victoria Derby in November, and the Flemington trainer is sticking to last year’s successful formula.

Turn It Up Tommy will debut at Flemington on Saturday in the Rod Johnson Handicap (1420m). Johnny Get Angry started his career in last year’s edition of the $125,000 race.

“It worked last year so why not go with that program again?” Pagan said.

“Every dream has to start somewhere.

“He’ll start off on Saturday then work his way through to the Byerly (Handicap over 1800m) at Flemington next month and that will tell us whether he stays.”

Like Johnny Get Angry, Turn It Up Tommy was bred in New Zealand but is a son of the Group 1 All-Aged Stakes (1400m) Tivaci.

However, Pagan said Turn It Up Tommy had plenty of staying blood in his pedigree.

“His sire Tivaci is by High Chaparral and he’s out of a Zabeel mare but there’s also double Sadler’s Wells in his pedigree so he should stay,” Pagan said.

Johnny Get Angry took trainer Denis Pagan to the highest peaks in racing when he won the Group 1 Victoria Derby at Flemington last year. Picture: Racing Photos – via Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

Turn It Up Tommy has had two jumpouts at Flemington leading into Saturday’s test. The two-year-old gelding especially pleasing Pagan when finishing third in his latest jumpout last Friday.

“I thought his last trial was very good,” Pagan said.

“He seems to be a bit sharper than Johnny Get Angry but whether he sticks as well as him, that’s the question.”

Johnny Get Angry has not raced since his Derby triumph last October but Pagan said the rising four-year-old was on the comeback trail.

He said Johnny Get Angry could tackle a Group 1 race first-up in September but could also appear before that in a sprint race to build fitness.

“Johnny Get Angry is just getting back up to even time in his work so he’s been back in about six weeks,” Pagan said.

“We might look at the Makybe Diva Stakes for him or give him a 1200m run as a lead-up. We could also give him three jumpouts instead of the usual two.

“He’s going well but it’s a matter of him holding together and getting back to the races.”

Pagan now has 11 horses to his name but not all are in work as he plays the waiting game for most of his team to mature.

He said it wasn’t ideal but accepted it was part of the business of training racehorses.

“I don’t want to be patient,” Pagan joked.

“I just wish they could all race at Flemington on Saturday but we know that’s not how it works.”

Originally published asAnother Derby dream for Denis Pagan

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