03/13/2013 12:46PM

Verrazano Remains Unbeaten

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Odds-on VERRAZANO's Tampa Bay Derby victory wasn't surprising in the least and the undefeated antepost favorite for the Kentucky Derby showed that he could overcome some adversity.

Verrazano grabbed a quarter after stumbling at the start and was then put into a tight spot on the first turn by the aggressive Jose Espinoza aboard Sam F. Davis winner FALLING SKY. 

"Ideally we wanted to stalk someone," winning trainer Todd Pletcher told track publicity after the race. "But he is so naturally fast for a big horse, there wasn’t enough pace to get behind too many horses.”

Displaying excellent agility, Verrazano responded willingly when jockey John Velazquez eased him out of the pocket and the pair cruised once in the clear.  Falling Sky tried gamely to repel the favorite and JAVA'S WAR made a solid move from the rear of the field, but there was no getting to Verrazano. 

"It was a good performance," said Pletcher. "He is a lot like his sire, More Than Ready; he has a great disposition and a great mind. You always worry about the variables – his first time shipping to a new place, the first time around 2 turns, the first time in a stakes. So we had a lot of variables he hadn’t seen before and he seemed to handle them real well.  He has had some freakinshly good performances and some of the things he does in the morning training, we don’t see to often."

Assuming his foot heals as expected, Verrazano will probably make his next appearance in the nine-furlong Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 6.

“The way he has finished his mile and mile and a sixteenth races, I don’t see another sixteenth being much of an issue," mentioned Pletcher.

*At Santa Anita, leading 3-year-olds FLASHBACK and GOLDENCENTS refused to relax and a protracted speed duel led to their demise.  The former, tasting defeat for the first time in three races, ran very well considering he was on the hot pace.  After dispatching Goldencents in midstretch, Flashback battled gamely to the wire only to be outfinished by the late-running HEAR THE GHOST.  Flashback certainly deserves another chance. 

"Coming to the first turn he was kind of tight in there," Flashback's rider, Julien Leparoux, told track publicity. "He just took off from there. He just wouldn't do what I wanted to do."

As for Goldencents, while a very talented and accomplished colt, he may be severely challenged at longer distances.  He didn't look comfortable when briefly in behind horses on the first turn and took off under jockey Kevin Krigger once he saw daylight entering the backstretch.

Krigger wasn't pleased with the way the race was run.  "Coming into the first turn, I got him to turn off, and I was surprised, as good of a rider as Julien is supposed to be, the move he made around the turn to make us have a dogfight race all the way around. Turning into the backstretch, that’s like committing suicide, you know? If we’re going that fast easily, it’s understandable, but to pressure a race like that . . . being on a favorite, that’s not a favorite’s ride at all."

Not to diminish the performance of the winner, a gelding that has done nothing wrong for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, but he did have the run of the race considering the pace scenario. 

“I don’t have any doubt that he will," stated winning jockey Corey Nakatani when asked if his mount will handle extra distance. "He gets in that high cruising speed, and he just kind of cruises along, you don’t have to ask him, you don’t have to even move on him. He’s a little seasoned horse."

***

You can find the latest "Under the Radar" column here:

http://www.drf.com/news/kentucky-derby-under-radar-javas-war

***

Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures (3/4/13 - 3/10/13):

1. DELAUNAY - 111 - Duncan F. Kenner Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Fair Grounds
2. DISCREET DANCER - 102 - Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) - 1 Mile - Gulfstream
3. APROPOS - 101 - Alw 54000N1X - 6 Furlongs - Oaklawn
3. HAVERHILL - 101 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - Gulfstream
3. VERRAZANO - 101 - Tampa Bay Derby (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - Tampa Bay
6. CYBER SECRET - 100 - Razorback Handicap (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - Oaklawn
6. ESCROW KID - 100 - OC 62k/N2X - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
8. BELIEVE YOU CAN - 98 - New Orleans Ladies Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Fair Grounds
9. CROSS TRAFFIC - 97 - OC 25k/N1X -N - 1 Mile - Gulfstream
9. LET EM SHINE - 97 - OC 80k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
9. ROSE TO GOLD - 97 - Honeybee Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles - Oaklawn
9. RUMOR - 97 - Las Flores Stakes (G3) - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Santa Anita
9. WHATTHECATDRUGIN - 97 - Alw 32400C - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - Turfway
14. MOONSHINE BAY - 94 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs (Tapeta) - Golden Gate
14. MR. FUZZYBOTTOM - 94 - Clm 12500(12.5-10)N2Y - 6 Furlongs - Fair Grounds
14. THE TRUTH AND K G - 94 - OC 75k/N1X -N - 1 Mile 70 Yards (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
17. HEAR THE GHOST - 93 - San Felipe Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - Santa Anita
17. HOGY - 93 - Alw 34000C - 6 Furlongs - Hawthorne
17. YONAGUSKA STORM - 93 - OC 17k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - Fair Grounds
20. AIGUE MARINE (GB) - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
20. HYPER - 92 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
20. PERFECT AFLEET - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - Gulfstream
20. SLY WARRIOR - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Gulfstream
24. BELLA FIGLIA - 91 - OC 25k/N1X - 7 Furlongs - Sam Houston
24. CASTLETOWN - 91 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - Santa Anita
24. DETERMINATO - 91 - OC 62k/N2X - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Gulfstream
24. EASTER GIFT - 91 - OC 75k/N3X -N - 1 Mile (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
24. MALEEH - 91 - Fred Cappy Capossela Stakes - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
24. WORKIN FOR HOPS - 91 - Clm 50000 - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream

*DELAUNAY's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.

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Dan,
Very impressive picks of late. I am intrigued by your statement that SOLA GRATIA was "looped and blindswitched" in her last turf race. Is there more meaning to that verbiage than she was forced to go wide. If so can you elaborate.
Biggar W

Sorry if I lapsed into harness racing terminology for a second there.  Sola Gratia was racing two wide and in behind horses when she was "looped" by another runner making a decisive move past her from the outside.  When that horse moved alongside Solo Gratia, Solo Gratia was momentarily boxed in or blindswitched.  Solo Gratia lost momentum while being shuffled back, but was able to regain her composure and re-rally in the stretch.

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Bernard,
It has always been my understanding that once entered, a horse had to run unless he was sick, the race was taken off the turf, he was an also eligible or was re-entered in another race at the track.
Maybe it is different with the stakes horses as they are often nominated for more than one stakes race. Maybe Dan knows the definitive answer. :)
Annie

Not necessarily.  Some trainers will scratch if they don't like the post position or track conditions.

***

Dan, I noticed some quite unusual finishers in the 11th race at SA on March 2, Big Cap day. I would like to know the Beyer for the top horse, Summer Exclusive. He was one of four debut maidens to hit the board and touch off boxcar numbers in the exotics, but the Double, Pick 3, Pick 6 were all quite modest by comparison. I know the previous races included Game on Dude and other chalk. I don't recall ever seeing four debut maidens run in this fashion when there were four other runners with prior race experience. What do you make of this?
STUCKINARIZONA

SUMMER EXCLUSIVE received an 84 Beyer Speed Figure for his debut victory on Big 'Cap afternoon.  The race was very interesting on paper as the experienced horses had decent form and the firsters either had big workouts or excellent pedigrees. 

Despite being by a stallion with a listed stud fee of $2,500, Summer Exclusive sold for $82,000 at OBS in 2012 after working a furlong in 10 seconds flat.  The runner-up, 17-1 MASTER APPEAL, is a full brother to Kentucky Derby runner-up Closing Argument.  The third-finisher, 26-1 AIRFOIL, is by Bernardini out of a three-time stakes-winning mare while the fourth-finisher, longshot TENKILLER KID, is the second starter out of stakes-winner Miss Wellspring.

Also, Bob Baffert had a well-bred uncoupled entry in WINE STOCK (half-brother to Bourbon Courage) and BAD BEHAVIOR, the first starter out of Grade 1 winner Behaving Badly, and Steve Asmussen had a well-regarded firster in JOE TESS. 

My assumption is that multi-race bettors were fairly flummoxed by this heat and spread deep.  They could afford to do so with GAME ON DUDE a potential single in the Big 'Cap and that may have affected the prices as compared to the win odds.

***

Congrats to ED KAY for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise. 

PENN NATIONAL RICK'S WEEKLY SCORESHEET IS AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.

Ed selected Friday's sixth race at Gulfstream for this week's event.

PAST PERFORMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.

Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."
 
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.
 
Please post your plays and analysis to the blog.

PLEASE GIVE YOUR NAME OR BLOG MONIKER AT THE END OF THE HG PLAY AND/OR ANALYSIS.
 
Please separate the play from the analysis and label the play "HG" with the program numbers (instead of the horse's name) for easier scoring.
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please.
 
I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.
 
I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place. The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are. I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.

***FROM SCOREKEEPER PENN NATIONAL RICK***

I read some entries on here and there are some people who put their heart out on their picks(such as DavidM9999) and give you great analysis on who they like and why and then there are others who elect not to give any reasoning behind their entries. The rule I will implement EFFECTIVE 3/1/13 will be... any entry without ANY analysis will be ignored. We are not asking you to put out a novel, but again a sentence or two. Also, I will put communication out when Dan puts out new blogs.
My intent is not to be jerk on this, but what's fair is fair. I'm not taking away from this week or past winners regarding all of this, but we do need to make the change.
If you have any questions/conce­rns...please send an email to FORMBLOG@DRF.CO­M and it will get forwarded to me.
Thank You!
Rick

REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE, PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.

ALSO, IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE FOLLOWING WEEK'S RACE, PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM NO LATE THAN THE FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY MORNING (A FRIDAY RACE IS MOST IDEAL).

Best of luck to all.

***

Looking forward to seeing my FormBlog friends at the Gulfstream Park convention over the weekend.  Will return to posting next week.

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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting. Even though about 4 MKBs were possible for the Sunland Derby, only NANCY B'S Shakin It Up has entered. Well, you know what you have to do, NANCY. Only MKB in the race. :) Good luck!!!! Annie
Gerty Golittle More than 1 year ago
Whackymacky, When you are contemplating bridgejumper bets, do you have a specific percentage of the show pool in mind? Like 90% of the money is on one horse? Would you consider it a viable bet if there was only 80% of the show money on the favorite? i.e., at Mountaineer, there is often a very heavy favorite. However, the amount of money bet in total can be very little. Which means it doesn't take more than a couple of thousand dollars to create a possible bet. knm
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Calvin, P.S. I think we are a lock to have a Formblogger winner of the Derby again this year. :) Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Calvin Carter, Yes, and nice to see that all 20 are MKB horses. :) Annie
CalvinLCarter More than 1 year ago
I very interested to see if these make Kentucky Derby top 20 list: War Academy Elnaawi Balance The Books Revolutionary General Election
bobc More than 1 year ago
Whacky, I have no doubt that a trip to Del Mar would be fantastic; However if you can also squeeze in the time to make the next Convention I guarantee you will have a blast!!! As an alumnus of the U of Miami I will be rooting hard for them as well. Those at the Convention can attest, I was changing one of the TV’s from Live Racing to Miami’s games in the ACC Tourney, perhaps a little to often for some, especially Chalky. It was Magical when they won the Tournament and fortunate for me that I was able to make Chalky a fan of the team. It sure beat going to the Emergency Room to have a Weasel removed from my Posterior. All the best on your Wager!!!! bobc
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Curtis, So are you saying that I should start shopping for a Derby hat? :) As for DEWEY, I haven't heard where he will be running next. At least he's working. I agree that he should avoid the Florida Derby unless he wants to be LUCKY'S pony. :) Annie
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
Bernard I hope that you are feeling better and are playing the ponies at a torrid pace. The drinks are cold, or warm as they might like them over the pond...I would like to know if you are playing Dubai by chance???? Any good longshots by chance??? I think we can find a big one.. How is the Queen?? What a remarkable lady...... Cheers Whackymacky Out!!!
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
knm I saw this scolling through the "'Inside post" box earlier this morning... .. Marty Mcgee.. "Looks like Uncaptured will be lukewarm Spiral stakes fav." Since you have 10 points with MKB UNCAPTURED , a win and 50 more points likely will get you into the thick of the Derby picture :) We will see what happens after the post position draw later today. Good Luck ! SR Vegas
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Pig Bodine Your MKB WAR ACADEMY is the 'Under the Radar' horse Dan has written about this week :) http://www.drf.com/news/kentucky-derby-under-radar-war-academy SR Vegas