Updated on 04/03/2013 10:06AM

Wood Memorial: Verrazano delivers bullet five furlongs before leaving Florida for Aqueduct

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Barbara D. Livingston
Arkansas Derby prospect Overanalyze (right), with John Velazquez up, works five furlongs in company with Charming Kitten on Sunday at Palm Meadows.

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Less than 13 hours after winning Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park aboard Orb, jockey John Velazquez was at the Palm Meadows training center Sunday morning to guide the undefeated 3-year-old Verrazano through his final workout leading up to next Saturday’s $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

Working outside of Grade 2 winner Discreet Dancer, Verrazano breezed five furlongs in 1:01.05, the fastest of 15 works at the distance. He began the work a length behind Discreet Dancer, quickly caught up, and finished about a neck in front. He got his last quarter in a solid 23.08 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.97 and seven-eighths in 1:27.56.

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

 “He breezed really well,” Velazquez said. “I was planning to be farther back, but the guy instead of going he just waited for me and I was in front of him, then I had to wait for him and we finished up really good the last quarter-mile and galloped out very good.”

 Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Verrazano, said the work was consistent with what he has been seeing from Verrazano, who has won all three of his starts in a career that began on New Year’s Day.

 “I’m impressed by his consistency. He’s an easy horse to train. He’s kind in his gallops. He’ll do whatever you want during a breeze,” Pletcher said.

 Verrazano will be the favorite in Saturday’s Wood Memorial, which, as of Sunday, had eight confirmed starters. The other runners are Vyjack, Normandy Invasion, Elnaawi, Mr Palmer, Always in a Tiz, Freedom Child, and Quinzieme Monarque.

 Verrazano, coming off a win in the Tampa Bay Derby, will ship to New York on Wednesday.

 Also on that flight will be Normandy Invasion, who worked a half-mile in 47.80 seconds Sunday morning at Palm Meadows, the fastest of 35 breezes at the distance.

 Working by himself under exercise rider Jorge Herrera, Normandy Invasion went his opening quarter in 24.00 seconds and came home in 23.80 while galloping out five furlongs in 59.96.

 Trainer Chad Brown said, after several fast five-furlong breezes in company, he wasn’t looking for another quick move from Normandy Invasion, but noted the horse did it basically on his own.

 “He went even better than I expected him to go,” Brown said. “He’s turning into a real professional horse. He went around there with his ears up. The time might have been a touch faster than I was looking for but he did it so easy with no company around him I just think he’s getting more professional.”

 Normandy Invasion, who was beaten a nose in the Remsen last November at Aqueduct, is coming off a troubled fifth in the Risen Star.

 Javier Castellano, who rode Revolutionary to victory in Saturday’s Louisiana Derby, will ride Normandy Invasion in the Wood.

Overanalyze, Charming Kitten work

 Velazquez was also aboard Overanalyze, last year’s Remsen winner, when he worked five furlongs in 1:01.26 Sunday in company with Charming Kitten, the runner-up in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes on turf.

Overanalyze, working towards a start in the Arkansas Derby on April 13, got his final quarter in 24.58 seconds.

Charming Kitten, who won the Kitten’s Joy on turf before finishing second to Rydilluc in the Palm Beach, also on turf, is being pointed to the Blue Grass Stakes on April 13.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated Normandy Invasion's last race. He was fifth in the Risen Star, not the Louisiana Derby.