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HRN Original Blog:
A New York State of Racing

"V" for Victory in the 2013 Wood Memorial

Verrazano with John Velazquuez wins The Tampa BAy Derby at Tampa Downs in Oldsmar Fl 3.9.2013
A very strong field of 10 has been assembled for the 2013 Wood Memorial, but seemingly the race sets up as a battle between Vyjack and Verrazano. That makes the Wood a clash of “V” versus “V” and thus it is very easy to think of the historic slogan of "V for Victory".
During the early years of World War II, when Germany was at the height of its power and had occupied much of Europe, the “V for Victory” saying emerged as a morale booster and as a rallying point across the continent. “V for Victory” really took hold in England and in July of 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill launched his “V for Victory” campaign. From that point on, Churchill always flashed the two finger “V” sign when he appeared in public.
Verrazano enters the Wood undefeated in three Florida starts since New Year’s Day. The More Than Ready colt will break from post position 8, as trainer Todd Pletcher tries to win the final New York Derby prep race for the third time in the past four years.  Gemologist won last year and Eskendereya was victorious in 2010, both of those horses were heavy betting favorites. Verrazano joins those two having been installed as a 4-5 morning line favorite.
Pletcher talked about the success of his leading Derby candidate, “He’s been a rare horse who’s been able to go from a maiden on January 1 to the Derby favorite on the first of April, which you don’t see very often.  He’s been able to handle everything we’ve thrown at him so far and now we have another step to go. We’re optimistic as he continues to develop he’ll be able to continue to handle his assignments.”
Jockey John Velazquez, who has ridden Verrazano in all of his starts, will stay on board. Johnny V. comes to Aqueduct having just won four stakes including the Florida Derby on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
Vyjack is also unbeaten, but after fours starts at Aqueduct. Vyjack has gotten a lot of attention for his dramatic change in running style having gone from a front runner to a deep closer. Assistant trainer Gustavo Rodriguez talked about the transformation, “Earlier, maybe we weren’t training him the right way.  Now, we train him differently and got him to relax. We changed the training. We put him behind horses, and it seems like everything is good with him. We think the horse is getting better as time goes by. When we work him, we like to put him in company because sometimes he doesn’t pay attention. When we put him in company, he focuses.”
Vyjack, who has been listed as the 4-1 morning line second choice and who drew the 5 post position, will retain the services of jockey Joel Rosario. Rosario is fresh off his victory in the $10 million Dubai World Cup with Animal Kingdom.
In addition to both horses being undefeated, they both have already secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby field when they each earned 50 points in their previous Road to the Derby prep. Vyjack won the Gotham and Verrazano took the Tampa Bay Derby.
Six of the 10 horses in the field come into the race with some Kentucky Derby qualifying points. The six have a total of 117 points, so to get into the Derby field those other eight horses will most likely need to win the race or finish second to be able to run at Churchill Downs.
The Wood Memorial also has a noteworthy history as a Derby prep race.  There have been 11 winners of the Wood-Kentucky Derby double. Six Triple Crown winners ran in the Wood and eight horses lost here in New York, but came back to take the Run for the Roses.
The Wood is slated as race 11 out of 12, that includes four other graded stakes: the Ruffian (G2), the Gazelle (G2), the Bay Shore (G3), and the Carter (G1). The Wood will be televised by the NBC Sports Network, with post time set for 6:28pm ET.
So do not be surprised if at the end of the day, that the owners of either Vyjack or Verrazano will be in the winner's circle flashing two fingers to show "V for Victory" in the Wood Memorial. 


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Older Comments about "V" for Victory in the 2013 Wood Memorial...

Go vyjack you got em beat champ!
t think he is hurt
He worked nicely a week ago, don'
look race to race for the bias that often visits Aqueduct this time of year....If it is there, Verrazano will have an easier time of it, but then the stories about his naggin injurny unsettling.
have you people even looked at this race? If any of you think for 2 second that either NI or Vyjack will be able to rally from off the pace and pass Verrazano you've completely lost your minds.They both will be forced to lay closer to the pace set by the sprinter with Verrazano laying a stalking second, entering the far turn Verrazano will pull even then run on by in hand and win by as many as Johnny wants...periodBellamy Road esq c ya in Kentucky boys
If Verrazano is even close to being as good as advertised, he'll win this race in a canter. If he is not up to it, be on the lookout for a big effort from Freedom Child and Mr (Vybz Kartel) Palmer.
I'd agree with @kentuckyderbypost re: Vyjack being the better "V", but I wouldn't shed a tear if Verrazano didn't show his distance limitations until the first Saturday in May.
Between the V's I'm thinking Vyjack proves the better in wood while Verrazano races solid in preparation for a peak performance in the KyDerby. Who knows if it will play out but it would be fun if this V vs V continues in May
@ Sully: Speaking of Albertrani, he also has Quinzieme Monarque as a 1st-time Lasix, coming off of turf. Freedom Child ran 2nd to Orb, when Orb broke his maiden. Verrazano has not had a race over this track. At 4-5, I'd pass on him. Other than Revolutionary, I don't think Pletcher's track record for shipping his 3-year-olds is very good.
Elnaawi all the way! At the best part is, with Verrazanno, Vyjack and Normandy Invasion you will get 10-1 easy. All the chalk bettors getting moosed on Verranzano and Vyjack wagers..
I think Castro can keep Elnaawi out of trouble.
Please check today for a related Shifman/Zipse Point/Counterpoint discussion!
For Elnaawi fans, I just see him getting bottled up somewhere, and that's the only reason I don't like him.
As for setup, I see inside and outside sending because of those post positions, Elnaawi, Vyjack, and Verrazano tracking the pace with Always in a Tiz and Go Get the Basil next, then the closers. I don't think they'll go too crazy on the front end, and Normandy Invasion will be the only deep closer to hit the board. 3 of my top four will be sitting in the top 7 to the back stretch, and will be no more than 5 lengths off the lead.
Looks chalky to me Verrazano; Vyjack; Normandy Invasion; Go Get the Basil. Having said that, it will probably be bombs away with some shocker. Freedom Child is intersting 1st time lasix for Albertrani, Mr. Palmer could steal it if things get too crazy on the front end, and Elnaawi is coming off a bullet work, could be improving at the right time. GL all!
My Superfecta: Always in a Tiz, Freedom Child, Normandy Invasion, Vyjack. I'll definitely box an exacta and trifecta with the top 3.
Hey Churchill was a very good polo player, he did know his horses. He doesn't seem like a chalk player though, I can't see him betting on Verrazano.
He was a big fan of the Normandy Invasion>> Add in Pletcher/Velazquez and bigbill backing up the truck to bet on Vyjack and Elnaawi could be double digits>>Peace out.

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.


The best way to get to know Matt is to check out some of his favorite articles from the past couple years.


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