With an overwhelming nine
and three-quarter length victory in the 2013 Haskell Invitational, Verrazano has returned to prominence in the three year-old
division. Still with only one career loss, Verrazano recorded his sixth victory
and moved his total earnings to over $1.5 million.
Trainer Todd Pletcher
talked about where Verrazano now
stands in the division. “I would say we made a huge statement today. That was
certainly one of the, if not the most, impressive performances that any three
year-old has run this year and I can’t think of too many more that were better
than that. Really ever.”
The victory margin was a
new record for the Haskell eclipsing the previous mark of seven lengths that had
been set by Bluegrass Cat in 2006.
The race began as expected
with Oxbow taking the lead for the first half-mile. At that point Verrazano
began to contest the lead on the outside of Oxbow. Shortly after Power Broker
began to make a move at the top two.
Verrazano’s trainer Todd Pletcher described the race from
that point. “You couldn’t have drawn it up any better. He broke well. He put
himself in a good stalking position. He was relaxed. When Power Broker came up
to his hip at the half-mile pole and Johnny [jockey Velazquez] kind of asked
him to go, he immediately took control of the race and it was pretty much over
at that point.”
The record margin of
victory adds to the already impressive record of Verrazano. “I think this was
his most impressive race,” said Pletcher as he recapped Verrazano’s career.
“You’re talking about a horse that is near perfect aside from the sloppy track
at Churchill. His maiden win was impressive, his allowance win at Gulfstream
was ultra- impressive. He won the Tampa Derby despite not liking the track. He
beat some very good horses in the Wood Memorial. You throw out the Derby on a
track that he hated and it’s pretty hard to pick apart his resume.
Verrazano brought Pletcher
his third victory in the Haskell. Pletcher won the race in 2006 and 2007 with
Bluegrass Cat and Any Given Saturday.
The final time for the
nine furlongs was 1:50.63 over a Monmouth Park track that had been playing
slowly all weekend long. Pletcher said, “He’s capable of handling
a distance of a mile and an eighth or more. The way he finished over what was a very demanding deep and
tiring track throughout the week. He finished strongly and pricking his ears at
the finish line like he was looking for more.”
Oxbow began to fade after
three-quarters and ended up finishing fourth. His jockey Gary Stevens said, “I
thought I was in a good position early, but when I called on him he just didn’t
have the same horse underneath me that he’s had in his previous races. It was
Verrazano is now likely to take Oxbow’s
place in the Travers as the top three year-olds will square off for division
supremacy in Saratoga on August 24.