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Pletcher Debunks Verrazano Derby Jinx

Trained Todd Pletcher, who will saddle favored Verrazano in Saturday’s Wood Memorial, gently debunked a “Derby Jinx” that could follow his currently undefeated colt to Churchill Downs, namely, that no horse who was unraced at age two has won the Derby since Apollo in 1882.


Verrazano, who is the early favorite for the Derby, made his first start on his third birthday: January 1, 2013.


“If they had a race on New Year’s Eve he would have won that,” said Pletcher. “That’s totally out of our control. I think one thing we’ve seen over the last ten years is all the Derby jinxes and Derby trends have been blown up, starting with Barbaro.”


In 2006, Barbaro became the first colt since 1956 to win the Derby off a five-week break. In the ensuing years, several other jinxes fell by the wayside as well: In 2007, Street Sense broke two when he became the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and the first juvenile champion since Spectacular Bid in 1979 to win the Run for the Roses. In 2008, Big Brown became the first horse to win the Derby from post position 20, and in 2009 Mine That Bird joined Funny Cide (2003) as one of two geldings to win since 1929. Pletcher himself had his 0-24 streak snapped by Super Saver in 2010, and 2011 saw Animal Kingdom, making his first start on dirt, become the first horse since Exterminator in 1918 to win with only four previous starts. Finally, last year, I’ll Have Another became the first to win from post position 19.


“All those old adages about you can’t win the Derby if you did this, or if your last prep was then, it’s been well-proven, especially recently, that those are no longer true,” said Pletcher.


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