01/02/2013 4:36PM

Gulfstream Park: Pletcher adds Verrazano to list of Derby prospects

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Barbara D. Livingston
Verrazano cruises to a 7 3/4-length debut victory under John Velazquez on Tuesday. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – As if trainer Todd Pletcher didn’t already have a strong enough arsenal of 3-year-olds heading into the new year, on Tuesday he wasted little time adding another to the list after Verrazano cruised to an easy 7 3/4-length victory over what appeared to be a loaded maiden field in the second race of the 2013 season.

Verrazano is a son of More Than Ready out of Enchanted Rock, and the younger brother of El Padrino, who began his 3-year-old campaign here last winter with an equally eye-catching allowance win. El Padrino would subsequently win the Grade 2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds and finish fourth in the Florida Derby before ending his abbreviated campaign by checking in 13th in the Kentucky Derby.

Verrazano, who was backed to 9-5, stalked the early pace before drawing off at will under jockey John Velazquez in his debut. He received a 94 Beyer Speed Figure.

“He’s been impressing us in the mornings,” said Pletcher. “We were looking forward to getting him started and I’m glad he showed us in the afternoon what he’d been showing in the mornings. He’s a real big colt who had some minor baby issues, and we just wanted to wait a little later to get him started. Actually, he could have been ready to run last week if the race had come up, but we zeroed in on this one.”

Pletcher said he sees many similarities between Verrazano and his big brother El Padrino.

“They have lot of similar characteristics – their personalities, their size, and their demeanor,” said Pletcher. “El Padrino is a really good horse, and this horse is even more impressive in the mornings.”

When asked what might be next on the agenda for Verrazano, Pletcher said he’ll “play it by ear and ease his way along.”

Verrazano joins Pletcher’s band of Kentucky Derby prospects, which also includes the undefeated Breeders’ Cup champion Shanghai Bobby, Remsen winner Overanalyze, Nashua and CashCall Futurity winner Violence, as well as Delhomme and Revolutionary.