There is no other trainer in America who has a larger
Kentucky Derby contingent than Todd Pletcher. There is raw talent, there is
foundation, there is breeding... most of his contenders have seemingly have it
all. But, with such power and numbers comes a plethora of trouble, and one of those
troubles is finding a proper race to place your horse.
Todd Pletcher has roads mapped out for most of his top
prospects from 2012, but some of the newer stars are left without any
solid plans. One of those colts was the brilliant, unbeaten Verrazano
. After a 16 ¼ length allowance route, Pletcher was undecided for a time, on where to send him next. He could send him to the Rebel, March 16th; the Tampa Bay Derby, March 9th; Or the Fountain of Youth, Feb 23rd.
All races have pros and cons, the Fountain of Youth was the
least likely since it only gave Verrazano three short weeks to rest, before
coming against another Pletcher heavy in Violence
. Out of the other two, it was
just announced today, as reported by Jay Privman on DRF, that Pletcher would be pointing his colt to the Tampa Bay
Derby. While I understand the pro’s of the race, I feel sending him to Tampa is
too risky, and that the Rebel would have been the better fit.
One of the largest advatntages to the Tampa Bay Derby is a lack of top quality
competition to challenge Verrazano. It is also worth 50 points to the winner,
the same as the Rebel, and Verrazano would not have to ship out of state to
run. Lastly, it would give Pletcher some flexibility as to what could be his
final prep. The race has but one con, and it is a major one, the surface.
Tampa Bay Downs’ surface is not known as a very predictable
surface. We saw champion War Pass
fail in allowance company at this very track.
performed admirably in the Tampa Bay Derby, but still came up short.
Others such as Street Sense
, won here in style. It is simply a hit or miss,
where Oaklawn seems to offer more predictability.
In the recent past Oaklawn also has had more success in
preparing horses for the Triple Crown series, where Tampa is, again, a hit or a
miss. If Verrazano handles the Tampa Bay surface Pletcher will look like a
mastermind, and I’ll commend him. If Verrazano dislikes the surface and
falters, though, he may have cost his colt a once in a lifetime chance.
The move to Tampa is a very dicey one. I hope Verrazano
proves versatile enough to overcome a very tricky surface. I hope Pletcher has
made the right decision and Verrazano puts on a show for us again. But, what I
hope and what I think are two different things. I don’t trust Tampa
form, and I really hope I am proven wrong.