Change Of Plans Gives Whodat Knockin’ A Shot At Group One Glory

A last minute decision, almost upon a whim, has landed Mount Mercer trainer Sam Bonaccurso and ten owners in their first Group One Final this Saturday night at The Meadows.

Whodat Knockin’ arrived on the staying scene with a bang last weekend by winning a heat of the Group One Super Stayers in the fastest time of the night.

“This is my first Group One final so it is very exciting for me and for the owners. There is ten owners and they all work together,” a happy Bonaccurso told ARG.

The son of Knocka Norris and Shanlyn Supreme found the lead early in his race and exploded away, setting a new first section record (4.84), to open up a big lead and hold on to score by a length in 42.86.

Incredibly, it was his first attempt over the distance. Bonaccurso originally had very different plans in mind for Whodat Knockin’, before an impressive middle distance debut prompted him to change course.

“His run at Sandown over 595 metres when he ran 33.99 and didn’t run a very good first section, that made me go in that direction. Before that he was probably going to race in the Derby at Ballarat and then head to the Australian Cup.”

“After he got that clean run over a longer distance, I thought we might be better off trying him out over the longer distances. I know it was at Group One level, but I don’t think it would have mattered what level it was at.”

Despite his flying first section last week, Bonaccurso explains that it has actually been Whodat Knockin’s box manners that have cost him over the shorter trips, even though he has plenty of ability.

“He didn’t surprise me with the run last week, the dog has tremendous ability, he just struggles to get a clean run because he isn’t that great out if the boxes. His trial times are just phenomenal.”

Bonaccurso is a renowned pre-trainer who came about training Whodat Knockin’ after the dog was in his care early in his education.

“I pre-train and I’d pre-trained Whodat Knockin’ and the owners asked if I’d train him. I’d trained a bitch for them before called Whodat Lass and she was a pretty handy bitch as well.”

Whodat Knockin’ will exit box three in this Saturday’s Group One final and Bonaccurso says he will need to begin as well as he can to avoid missing out on opening up a lead like he did in his heat win.

“He runs pretty straight so any box really suits him as long as he’s left alone for the first 10 or 20 metres. He doesn’t actually get out all that well from the boxes.”

“A lot will depend on the dogs around him, Destini Fireball on his inside is a big dog so he won’t want to run into him and I think the four (Lethal Three) likes to get left a bit and look for the rails. So if he misses the start, they might take his run. The first fifty and the last fifty is where he will need the luck.”

Bonaccurso also says that backing up for his second career race over 700, especially at the highest level, will be a massive challenge for his kennel star.

“This Saturday night being his second go over 700 metres is probably going to be more of a test for him. He is definitely a good 600 metre dog, but 650 and 700 well we will see, maybe a bit further down the track for sure.”

The future looks bright for the 30-month-old Whodat Knockin’, especially given that he was originally being prepared for racing over the shorter trips.

“This wasn’t a great preparation for him because it wasn’t really planned, so he should get a bit stronger and he’s going to be a long way in front in a lot of 700 metre races.”

With some luck in the right places, it could be a whirlwind fairytale for Sam Bonaccurso and the connections of Whodat Knockin’ come Saturday night.

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