Trainer Murray Johnson has twice been close to winning the Kentucky Derby but it is a more modest Classic race in Adelaide next month that is now driving his ambitions.
Johnson is chasing his first stakes winner in Australia when Family Pride runs in Saturday’s Listed Galilee Series Final at Caulfield.
A win could set up a South Australian Derby bid.
Johnson, a great great grandson of William Samuel Cox for whom the Cox Plate is named, spent 30 years in the United States where he trained in his own right for 20 years, winning 239 races.
His American portfolio also included a third placing with Perfect Drift in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and fourth in 1991 with Green Alligator.
The Kentucky Derby is run every year on the first Saturday in May.
Johnson started training again at Seymour last year and has a handful of horses in his team including Correggio, a winner at Sandown on Wednesday.
He said the St Leger in Melbourne later this month or the South Australian Derby a week later were options with Family Pride, a last-start third at Moonee Valley.
“Ironically it (South Australian Derby) is on the first Saturday in May. That’s been a very, very special day in my life so if we continue that, that would be awesome,” Johnson said.
Family Pride was third to Crime Fighter over 2040m last start in a race where his jockey Cory Parish was suspended on three separate careless riding charges.
Daniel Moor has the ride on Saturday and while the horse is a query in heavy ground, Johnson expects a step up in distance to help Family Pride.
“We feel if he had the same sort of trip as the winner last start he would have been very close,” Johnson said.
Family Pride is a $9 chance with the Ken Keys-trained Bring Something favourite at $3.20.
Calendar Lad, second to Crime Fighter last start, is on the second line of betting at $6.