no. 1 verrazAno
Unbeaten in four starts, most recently capturing the Wood Memorial by three quarters of a length from Normandy Invasion while earning a 95 Beyer figure in a race that was impacted by extremely slow early fractions that prevented a faster final time (and, hence, a high speed figure). Previously had won his maiden on New Year’s Day in breathtaking fashion by nearly eight lengths (94 Beyer) at 6 ½ furlongs, an entry-level allowance race by more than 16 lengths (105 Beyer) Feb. 2 over a one-turn mile, both at Gulfstream Park, and then the Tampa Bay Derby by three lengths (101 Beyer) despite bobbling at the start and steadying and altering course around the first turn. A strong colt with fluid action, he reminds very much both physically and in style of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown. By More Than Ready, a prolific stallion both in the U.S. and in Australia, the $250,000 Keeneland yearling purchase was produced by an unplaced Giant’s Causeway mare whose first foal, El Padrino, was himself a major Triple Crown prospect in 2012. The sires of the second, third, and fourth dams are Mr. Prospector, Blushing Groom, and Dr. Fager, all of whom contribute to the brilliance this colt has so far displayed. Though saddled with the dreaded “Apollo” jinx (no Derby winner has failed to race as a two-year-old since Apollo in 1882), this Todd Pletcher-trained colt has the type of sheer natural ability that champions are made of and most likely will be the Derby post time favorite.