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.

Ryan Farnsley More than 1 year ago
I'll have Another didn't start late, he was racing at Del Mar as a two yr. old. He was just unsuccessful until he turned 3 yrs. old.
Wesley Wright More than 1 year ago
I like this horse. Looks like he has tons of talent.
John More than 1 year ago
The East seems to be coming up with some exceptional colts ! Out West Baffert seems to have a couple nice ones, Flashback right at the top of the list ! This colt debuted in a 7furlong MDN race, filled with promising colts . One of them opened up on the turn, but Flashback settled, circled wide and blew past in an instant, galloped out exceptional; And he is a beautiful looking greyish sliver color ! Almost like a Silver Charm .The race has already produced 3 next out winners !
John More than 1 year ago
It seems the new thought process for alot of trainers, is becoming, get 3-4 races into a good colt, and then take a shot at the Derby ! Last year, Bodemeister, Ill Have Another and Paynter all started late , yet did well. The ones who seemed to be over raced, seemed to be declining by Derby, Preekness , Belmont time . Maybe the current trainers are taking a new highway to the Triple Crown .Seems to be working, they are the experts !
raymond More than 1 year ago
Micromanage could be included soon.
Joey W More than 1 year ago
kind of shocked. I thought the beyer fig would be higher. Horse would have dominated the Spectacular Bid which was the race just after. Think this horse could be a player.
Scott Stewmon More than 1 year ago
I remember afleet alex running at oaklawn in a 6 furlong race to start his 3 year old year...he turned out pretty good that year
hialeah More than 1 year ago
The "Point System" could be the Wild Card that helps/hurts the "true" talent in this crop of 3 yos. Seems that it was put together hastily with little thought given to the way things were, but rather, how the interests surrounding Churchill Downs can best make out. Some tweaking would seem to be needed. But it shapes up to be one wild ride for now. (read:Interesting)
BrandonLayer More than 1 year ago
how are the interests surrounding Churchill Downs bast making out by the new system? There is a good article up about how most recent Derby horses don't emerge until after they are two. Churchill realizes this. That's why the changes were made. Plus good two year olds can still get into the Derby. All they have to do is run well in Derby prep races and they'll earn enough points. If they don't run well in Derby preps then they shouldn't be in the Derby based solely on two year old form. The winner of the Louisiana Derby run at Churchill owned Fair Grounds was always going to get into the Derby anyway
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Another fine prospect for Pletcher. The new Derby point system may inadvertantly save some of Pletchers horses. Any other year he may have pushed him earlier, but having a few minor issues there was no need to. He did it very well, finished nice, showed desire, and he's a big stout boy. His time was on par or faster than any other on the card except one, Itsmylucky day. Itsmyluckyday really looked exceptional. He was with the early pace, moved to the front on the turn, and allowed to drift wide to keep his opponent outside of him. When asked he pinned his ears and took off with determination doing everything his jock asked him to do when he asked. When the jock wrapped him up well before the wire, he pricked his ears, and went back to his left lead. And did in extremely fast time. He seems to have it all and I like his running style. Too early to tell, but I bet Plesa is grinning and wouldn't change with anyone.
Patrick De Vito More than 1 year ago
At this time last year, Pletcher had a dozen "Derby" horses...another arsenal......NONE of them turned out to be anything. Horses winning maiden sprints are not automatically Derby horses! All overhype.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Hey Pat. Just curious. If the race were run today who you got? How about sharing your opinion rather than bashing Pletcher first out winner by 7 + lengths.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Btw horse is bred to go long. So winning first out doing something he isnt bred to do is a + . Not a knock.