Nazareth upsets in Derby at big odds
By Michael Guerin
Nazareth may have stunned punters by winning the Pron8ure Probiotic $100,000 NZ Trotting Derby on Sunday but co-trainer Robert Dunn says he wasn’t as shocked.
The lightly-raced trotter kept his head while many around him lost theirs in the classic and after a perfect Tim Williams drive grabbed Mystic Max right on the line to give Team Dunn the two Trotting Derbys in the same season, with Highgrove having won the Northern Derby in May.
He finished a brave third this time after an early gallop, one that was matched by half the field in a messy race that took two attempts to get underway.
None of that should take away from Nazareth’s win as he was having just his ninth career start and has overcome a brutal virus in the last two months to now be a group 1 winner.
“He may have gone into the race our second stringer but he was a good one,” says Dunn.
“He has gone from an average maiden three months ago to a Derby winner and that suggests, the way he is improving, he will be an open class horse.”
Dunn was also stoked with the run of Highgrove but says with the change of the season to match the calendar year both horses will likely head to the paddock.
“Both of them have had the same virus that has affected so many in our stable so we have decided a lot of them can now have a break to get over it,” he explains.
“With the four-year-olds not having many early targets he can work his way through the grades next year when he will be an even better horse.”
Nazareth was bred by Jenny Butt from her handy mare Maysoon and went through the sale ring before ending up with the Dunn stable for a large ownership group.
“They are a good bunch so we are thrilled to get a good result for them.”
While the stable’s effort to win both of New Zealand’s trotting Derbys in the same season is rare it was actually achieved by the All Stars in 2018 when they won at Addington by Luby Lou and the Northern Derby with Winterfell.
Team Dunn missed a shot at a second trotting Group 1 on Sunday when Sundees Son was withdrawn from the NZ Trotting Free-For-All but the stable’s senior partner reports the three-time Dominion winner is actually better than he expected.
“He knocked a leg and we thought it would rule him out of the summer but the vets are saying it not too bad,” says Dunn.
“But we are still going to ease up on him and aim for the northern races in the autumn so that won’t change even though we are very happy with his recovery.”