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03/05/02 Aussie's Kentucky Derby Runner a Top Hope
An Australian has a chance to win one of the world's most famous races, the Kentucky Derby on the weekend in the United States.

Murray Johnson, a great-great grandson of the legendary WS Cox, will saddle up the 15/1 pop Perfect Drift in a race where the winning horse will pocket connections about US$900,000.

Perfect Drift, who's by the leading Northern Hemisphere sire Dynaformer, will carry the hopes of the former Australian, who is now based in Kentucky after a short twelve month stint in Ireland.

History is not on the side of Perfect Drift. He is attempting to break a 73 year drought for geldings. No gelded galloper has won the famous race since 1929.

The 128th running of the famous Derby will take place in the early hours of Sunday morning in Australia.

Johnson, who's family raced the former Champion Two-Year-Old Vain, said on Melbourne radio this morning he is still a proud Australian.

"If we happen to win the Australian flag will certainly be flying, there's no doubt about that," he told Sport 927's Adam Hamilton this morning.

"It's very exciting to have a horse in such a prestigious race and hopefully he can make up for Green Alligator," Johnson added.

Green Alligator was Johnson's first ever Kentucky Derby runner and he had little luck in the race after being shuffled back during the middle stages before making good late ground to finish a top fourth.

While thousands of Australians are expected to tune into the Derby via the internet or simulcasts, Johnson will have some support from down under at the track. His brother and sister-in-law will be making the trip from Sydney to lend their support.

While the fact none of the past 74 geldings which have contested the prestigious race since 1929 have walked away the winner, there is one positive for Perfect Drift.

One of America's greatest ever jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye will be in the saddle for the Derby. The veteran hoop has rejected the ride on the 50/1 chance Ocean Sound to ride Perfect Drift.

Delahoussaye is a multiple winner of the Derby, but like the record for gelding's his is a little bit of a drought as well. His wins came in back-to-back fashion in 1982 and 1983.

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