02/12/2013 12:51PM

Pletcher pointing Verrazano to Tampa Bay Derby

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Barbara D. Livingston
Verrazano will make his stakes debut in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 9.

After briefly considering the Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Gotham as possibilities, trainer Todd Pletcher on Tuesday said that the unbeaten Verrazano would make his stakes and two-turn debuts in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 9.

Verrazano, 2 for 2 in his brief career, most recently romped in a Gulfstream Park allowance race, a one-turn mile, by 16 1/4 lengths on Feb. 2 while earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 105.

Pletcher was uncomfortable coming back in the Fountain of Youth, both because it is a short turn-around from the allowance race, and because another of his unbeaten colts, Violence, is scheduled to make his 2013 debut in that race on Feb. 23 at Gulfstream Park.

The Gotham, March 2 at Aqueduct, also had a conflict, since Remsen winner Overanalyze is scheduled to make his first start of the year there for Pletcher, and it would require moving Verrazano out of Florida.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

The Tampa Bay Derby gives Verrazano the longest time between races, something Pletcher frequently desires, and it keeps him in Florida.

Another Pletcher trainee, Delhomme, was also under consideration for the Tampa Bay Derby, but Pletcher said he most likely will await the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 16 for his first start of the year.

All of those races – the Fountain of Youth, Gotham, Tampa Bay Derby, and Rebel – are worth 50 points to the winner under the new eligibility system put in place this year by Churchill Downs for the May 4 Kentucky Derby. The Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Feb. 23, plus the San Felipe at Santa Anita on March  9, the Spiral at Turfway on March  23, and the Sunland Derby on March 24, also are worth 50 points to the winner, with 20 to second, 10 to third, and 5 to fourth.

The final two Derby preps worth just 10 points to the winner are this weekend, the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate on Saturday, and the Southwest at Oaklawn on Monday, the Presidents' Day holiday.

The final round of major preps to the Derby, where the points are worth 100-40-20-10, respectively, to the top four finishers, begins with the Florida Derby at Gulfstream, the United Arab Emirates Derby in Dubai, and the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds, all on March 30. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby on April 6, and the Blue Grass at Keeneland and Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn on April 13, are also worth 100 points to the winner.

Verrazano was the shortest-priced individual entry in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which closed Sunday. He was an 11-1 chance, behind only “all others,” which was favored at 8-5.

In the aftermath of Verrazano’s allowance win, an interest in the colt was purchased by the Coolmore Stud of Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Susan Magnier. Coolmore last year purchased a half-interest in Shanghai Bobby, who went on to win the Eclipse Award as champion male 2-year-old. He, too, is trained by Pletcher.

Verrazano, a son of More Than Ready, was purchased as a yearling for $250,000 by the Let’s Go Stable headed by Bryan Sullivan and Kevin Scatuorchio.

Alex More than 1 year ago
Bred my Emory hamilton, this is a TURF horse, just watch and see.
Infinity More than 1 year ago
I'll get better odds on the 2nd and 3rd choices so thanks for coming to Tampa......with the big horse.....
bob More than 1 year ago
pletcher will hav 4 horses n the KDerby
Rick Baldwin More than 1 year ago
I think owners get cheated when a trainer enters more than one horse in a race,but this time of year is sometimes must be done. Glad to see that Pletch has avoided this conflict of interest.
Carl Napolitana More than 1 year ago
Please look at the dams pedigree PLEASE!!!!!!
russell More than 1 year ago
People will be jumping off the Verrazano Bridge to those people support him. I bet Falling Sky in the Sam Davis but he was not impressive and he tired badly late. I was at Tampa that day so you are getting an unbiased report. A lot of More Than Ready colts are excellent on the turf. Thats where I see this colt. Derby? No WAY!!!
Mark More than 1 year ago
Yeah looked terrible on the dirt.
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
Here's my Tri & Superfecta Key plays for the Fountain of Youth: Violence on top of Normandy Invasion, Overanalyze, Revolutionary and Shanghai Bobby!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Todds barn is always strong before the derby but if I were an owner, I would run where I think he has the best chances of winning regardless of Pletcher other probable starters. I would see a conflict of interest if I thought Verrazano is the best horse at GP. Then again I don't own any derby horses only bet on them.
michael stapler More than 1 year ago
So, basically, thr "best" trainer out there is clueless as to how to work the system and get his horses the best chance of making the Derby. Wait until one of these powerhouse trainers takes the "points" route to the Derbt and his best chance gets hurt, only to leave a horse like Voilence (story purposes only) short on points and on the outside looking in. I'd like nothing more than to see this happen to a few of those trainers. It seems Pletcher doesn't think Violence has his best chance to get him to the promise land by the way he has no clue as to where to run him.
Jeff Wenzel More than 1 year ago
Personaly I woudnt want to see any of them get hurt just to stick it to the trainer...that's pretty irresponsible to say in my opinion.
Carl Napolitana More than 1 year ago
Man your the one thats clueless!!!!!!!!???????
Allan Gauthier More than 1 year ago
Do you know when the last time a derby winner did not start a race as a 2yr old ?