Johnny Get Angry

Johnny Get Angry winning the 2020 VRC Derby (Image: Racing Photos)

Pagan draws on 2020 blueprint with Tommy

Dual AFL premiership-winning coach-turned-trainer Denis Pagan is drawing on the precedents set by Victoria Derby winner Johnny Get Angry last year when it comes to the career of rising three-year-old Turn It Up Tommy.

Johnny Get Angry only beat one horse home on debut, before going on to run third in the Taj Rossi Series Final at his next run.

Like his stablemate, Turn It Up Tommy only beat one home at his debut and has accepted to start in Saturday's renewal of the Taj Rossi Series Final.

"It wasn't bad," Pagan said of Turn It Up Tommy's first race.

"I draw comparisons between what happened with my Derby winner last year, it was slightly better.

"I made a mistake, he'd been trialing and working with a crossover nose band on, and been pulling a little bit, and I just wanted to start off without any gear on him, and I did that, and he did pull a little bit, and he was very, very green, but he was 5.2 lengths away.

"We expect a better showing this week, we'll ride him a bit quieter, put the crossover nose band back on, and hopefully he can finish off the race, and that's what the aim is." 

Pagan also believes that the rise in distance from 1420m to 1600m will benefit the son of Tivaci.

"That's going to suit him, he's out of a Zabeel mare, I'm really pleased about that, and as he gets out in distances, I think the better he's going to become," he said.

The coach of North Melbourne's Team of the Century also revealed that Johnny Get Angry may return to the races in the early part of the spring.

"He's going pretty well," Pagan said.

"He'll start improving gallops next week, couple of weeks of that, then a couple of trials.

"I'm even sparring with the idea, and it's only early days yet, instead of having another three more trials, he might get there a bit early, I might run him down the straight in the Aurie's Star, like Bart (Cummings) used to do in the old days.

"We'll probably leave the blinkers on and keep our fingers crossed, but there's a lot of water to go under the bridge, I don't want to get too carried away with myself."