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Blog - RACING

Photo courtesy Eclipse Sportswire

Making the Grade, which will run right up until the Belmont Stakes (G1), will focus on the winners of the big races, usually from the previous weekend, who could impact the 2013 Triple Crown. We’ll be taking a close look at impressive winners and evaluating their chances to win the 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) based on factors such as ability, running style, connections (owner, trainer, jockey) pedigree.

This week we take a look at a colt who has not yet won a graded stakes – Verrazano – but he already has made quite an impression.

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Verrazano

Bay Colt

Sire (Father): More Than Ready

Dam (Mother): Enchanted Rock,by Giant’s Causeway

Breeder:  Emory A. Hamilton (Ky.)

Owner: Let’s Go Stable

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Verrazano has made only two starts in his career, but he has established himself as a colt to watch on the 2013 Triple Crown trail with a pair of dominant victories. His most recent win was a 16 ¼-length runaway in a one-mile race at Gulfstream Park that sent his odds to win the Kentucky Derby plummeting all the way down to 12-1 with the Wynn Las Vegas Race and Sports Book. Trainer Todd Pletcher is pointing Verrazano to the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 9 for his stakes debut.

Ability: Verrazano will enter March of his 3-year-old season with only two races under his saddle and no stakes experience on his resume, so he has plenty of work to do to accrue the points necessary to secure a starting spot in the Kentucky Derby under the new points system. But there is no doubt the talent is present.

Verrazano overwhelmed ten opponents in his career debut on January 1 at Gulfstream. The More Than Ready colt stalked the pace under John Velazquez, took command early in the stretch and streaked clear to win by 7 ¾ lengths. He second start was even more impressive as he stretched out from 6 ½ furlongs to one mile and won by more than 16 lengths as the 1-5 favorite.

Verrazano took charge early in his most recent start and ripped through a fast first half-mile in :45.45. He still had enough gas in the tank to carry that speed through the second half of the race as he stopped the clock in 1:34.80, just a shade more than a second off the track record. Not too shabby for his second race!

The bay colt improved his Equibase Speed Figure from 92 in his debut to a 103 in his second career start.

Verrazano is trying to become the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby without a single race at two since Apollo in 1882, so he will indeed need to be a special talent.

VERRAZANO’S ROMP IN FEBRAURY AT GULFSTREAM

Running style: It’s become a recurring theme in this blog, but high cruising speed is an asset that really serves a 3-year-old well as he stretches out in distance and targets major Kentucky Derby prep races and the classic races themselves. Verrazano certainly has it.

In his debut, he charged out of the gate to go right to the front and then settled into third. Verrazano definitely looked a bit green in that race as Velazquez started urging him for speed nearing the turn, but the talented colt responded eagerly. In his second race, Verrazano utilized that eye-opening cruising speed to simply outclass his opposition. 

(Click here to view the 2013 Derby Leaderboard)

Connections: Pletcher seems to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Kentucky Derby hopefuls in 2013. In addition to Verrazano, Pletcher also trains champion Shanghai Bobby, Remsen Stakes (G2) winner Overanalyze, CashCall Futurity (G1) winner Violence and Withers Stakes (G3) victor Revolutionary. Pletcher won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver and the 2007 Belmont Stakes with Rags to Riches.

Let’s Go Stable, a racing operation that focuses on building partnerships, was formed in 2006 by Kevin Scatuorchio and his brother-in-law Bryan Sullivan. Scatuorchio and Sullivan serve as managing partners. Scatuorchio is the son of James Scatuorchio, who raced champion English Channel. Let’s Go Stable finished third in the 2008 Belmont Stakes with Ready’s Echo and raced Grade 2 winner El Padrino, Verrazano's half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]).

Regular rider John Velazquez won the 2011 Kentucky Derby aboard Animal Kingdom and the 2012 Belmont Stakes with Union Rags. Velazquez also was aboard Rags to Riches in 2007 when she became the first filly in 102 years to win the Belmont Stakes.

Making the Grade: Flashback

Making the Grade: Revolutionary

Making the Grade: Itsmyluckyday

Making the Grade: Oxbow

Making the Grade: Dewey Square

Making the Grade: Vyjack

Making the Grade: Goldencents

Making the Grade: Overanalyze

Making the Grade: Violence

Making the Grade: Uncaptured

Making the Grade: Shanghai Bobby

Pedigree: Verrazano is a by a successful and versatile sire in More Than Ready, who was one of four horses that made up Pletcher’s first Kentucky Derby contingent in 2000. More Than Ready finished fourth for James Scatuorchio in the 2000 Kentucky Derby, one spot behind the Pletcher-trained Impeachment.

A Grade 1 winner on the racetrack, More Than Ready has been very successful as a sire, with a well-deserved reputation as a very versatile sire of horses that excel on the main track, synthetic surfaces, and especially on grass. He also has traveled to Australia to stand at stud during the Southern Hemisphere breeding season and has been a top sire Down Under with Australian champions More Joyous, Phelan Ready and Sebring among his top runners.

Verrazano also gets plenty of class from the maternal side of his pedigree as he is half-brother to 2012 Risen Star Stakes (G2) winner El Padrino. Verrazano’s dam (mother) has gotten off to a great start with Verrazano and El Padrino as her first two starters. Verrazano’s second dam (maternal grandmother) is 1987 Ashland Stakes (G1) winner Chic Shirine, a full sister (same sire [father] and dam [mother]) to champion Queena. There are plenty of standout stakes winners from this maternal family, including Verrazano’s Grade 1-winning third dam (maternal great-grandmother) Too Chic. Other graded stakes winners from this family include Grade 1 winner and sire Brahms and Grade 1 winner Serra Lake as well as Al Khali, Hungry Island, Cappuchino, Coal Play, Soaring Empire, La Reina, and Regal Engagement. Many of the top runners from this family enjoyed success in distance races, which bodes well for Verrazano’s chances as the races get longer on the path to Churchill Downs.

Mike Curry’s Kentucky Derby Top 20

  1. Itsmyluckyday

11. Overanalyze

  2. Revolutionary

12. Super Ninety Nine

  3. Shanghai Bobby

13. Goldencents

  4. Oxbow

14. Vyjack

  5. Verrazano

15. Demonic

  6. Flashback

16. Dynamic Sky

  7. Violence

17. Palice Malice

  8. Normandy Invasion

18. Mac the Man

  9. Uncaptured

19. Falling Sky

10. Delhomme

20. Mylute

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

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