Racing News

Verrazano gallops out powerfully after half-mile breeze

  • Verrazano is gearing up for the Wood Memorial (Tom Cooley Photography)

Leading Kentucky Derby hopeful Verrazano breezed a half-mile in :49 3/5 at Palm Meadows Sunday, recording his first work since his three-length conquest of the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9. The Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 6 is next for the undefeated colt.

"Huge work from Verrazano this morning," co-owner Let's Go Stable tweeted, citing his "huge gallop-out."

The Todd Pletcher trainee went in company with Grade 2-winning older stablemate Discreet Dancer, according to Daily Racing Form, and proceeded to gallop out energetically through five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 and six furlongs in 1:13 2/5.

"You could say it was a maintenance work," Pletcher told DRF, "except that the gallop-out was really awesome. It was pretty impressive."

Verrazano has been utterly dominant in all three career starts. After a 7 3/4-length debut score at Gulfstream Park on January 1, the More Than Ready colt demolished entry-level allowance foes at the same venue February 2 by 16 1/4 lengths.

Stretching out to two turns for his stakes premiere at Tampa, Verrazano stumbled at the start and grabbed a quarter, but still flaunted his class with another convincing win.

Plans call for Verrazano to jet to New York on April 3, three days ahead of the April 6 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. The 1 1/8-mile test will serve as his final stepping stone to the May 4 Kentucky Derby.

Wood Memorial rival Normandy Invasion also graced the Palm Meadows worktab Sunday, firing five-eighths in a bullet 1:00 1/5 for Chad Brown, best of 34 moves at the distance.

The son of Tapit was posting his second straight bullet, having blitzed the same distance in :59 3/5 last Sunday.

Normandy Invasion was one of the buzz horses over the winter, thanks to his visually impressive near-miss in the Grade 2 Remsen in November.

But when returning to action in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, he compromised his chances by a slow and awkward start, and ended up rallying belatedly for fifth. He will try to regain his luster back at Aqueduct, the scene of his 9 1/4-length maiden romp as well as the Remsen.