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Verrazano Gets the Victory in the Wood Memorial

The Wood Memorial was billed as the battle of “V” versus “V”, Verrazano against Vyjack, and that is exactly how it played out. Verrazano got the “V” for Victory in the battle down the stretch against Vyjack.
 
Early in the race Verrazano sat in second place just behind the early speed. Vyjack also was waiting to make his move, a little bit further back in fourth place. Around the turn Verrazano took the lead and began to lengthen. Down the stretch Vyjack made his move and drew close to Verrazano, but he could not get to the unbeaten 4-5 favorite. Near the wire Vyjack began to fade as Normandy Invasion came charging to get second money in the Wood. Verrazano ended winning by three quarters of a length in a relatively slow time of 1:50.27.
 
As a result Verrazano earned another 100 Road to the Kentucky Derby points and $600,000. Normandy Invasion picked up 40 points to give him a total of 44, which should be enough to get him into the field on the first Saturday in May.
 
Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Verrazano, talked about his More Than Ready colt, “It was a very good effort. He continued to win, stretch out in distance, and step up in competition. So another big effort by him. Every race gets a little bit tougher and the distances get longer and so this was a huge win for him.”
 
The Wood Memorial answered several questions heading into the Derby, but at the same time it created a couple of very important questions. Who will John Velasquez decide to ride, remembering that he guided both Orb and Verrazano to their most recent wins? Also, who will be the favorite when the horses go in the gate at Churchill Downs on May 4th?
 
Johnny V. wants to take his time making his decision,“We will see how the horses come back. We all know I had three years back-to-back with the favorite leading to the Derby and [none] of the three horses made it. So I hope the people give me the opportunity to watch the horses work, and then we’ll make a decision later on. I’d be very stupid if I made a decision right now.”
 
Pletcher commented on the second of those questions, “Verrazano hasn’t done anything wrong so far and there are still some preps to go, but I would right now say that he is the legitimate favorite.”
 
As Verrazano prepares for the Derby, Pletcher said,”The key now is to go to Churchill and get over that track well. Churchill can be a very peculiar surface and a lot of horses don’t handle it.”
 
The Wood Memorial was the last of five graded stakes races at Aqueduct. Here are the highlights of the other big races:
 
A Stakes Win for the Little Guy - The stakes card began with a huge upset, as Withgreatpleasure won the Ruffian Handicap (G2) and paid $30.60. David Nunn, whose identical twin brother Doug is also a trainer, now has the family bragging rights as the first to win a graded stakes race.  Nunn was choked up when he talked about his filly, “She [Withgreatpleasure], has taken me places that I have never been.”
 
Close Hatches Stays Unbeaten - The Gazelle (G2) featured three horses that entered the race on winning streaks.  Walkwithapurpose came into the mile and an eighth contest with five Laurel wins in a row for Sagamore Farm with the last three in stakes. Princess of Sylmar had reeled off five in a row for Todd Pletcher and all those wins were by significant margins.  It was the Bill Mott trainee Close Hatches, who kept her win streak alive and remained undefeated in three career starts. On the early lead, Close Hatches held off a late charge by Princess of Sylmar. Bill Mott talked about this talented filly, “She went to eyeball-to-eyeball with a horse that has a lot of experience. I think for a third start and first time in stakes company, she ran very, very well.  The [Kentucky Oaks on May 3] is certainly a possibility.”
 
Nick Zito Wins his First Bay Shore -Declan’s Warrior launched a determined closing drive to win the Bay Shore (G3) by a head at the wire. The Nick Zito trainee defeated a field of very nice three-year-olds, who were not on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Last year Trinniberg won the Bay Shore and went on to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and the Eclipse Award for sprinters. This was the first stakes win for Declan's Warrior. Zito’s wife, Kim, is the primary owner of the horse. He summed up the win, “The speed got going and he got going in the end.”
 
Florida Shipper Wins on a Chilly Day at Aqueduct - Swagger Jack came north from Florida to win the Carter (G1) on a chilly spring day at Aqueduct. Swagger Jack (15-1) had finished second in his last two graded stakes efforts at Gulfstream. Today he was able to turn the tables on Discreet Dancer and Fort Loudon. The heavy favorite Discreet Dancer finished third.
 
    

 

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Older Comments about Verrazano Gets the Victory in the Wood Memorial...

That last test might prove to be a tough task for all the entrants, not just Verrazano.
Nice win for Verrazano, but there are obvious Kentucky Derby warning signs there.
UPDATE -- I had heard some talk yesterday, but now it is confirmed that Vyjack bled during the Wood. Also, Verrazano went :36 and change for the last 3F.
SINCE NONE of those final numbers address ANYTING about the pace of the race, direct comparison is ridiculous.
UPDATE -- Here are the BSFs from Wood Day: Ruffian Withgreatpleasure 86 -- Gazelle Close Hatches 88 -- Bay Shore Declan's Warrior 97 -- Carter Swagger Jack 105 -- Wood Verrazano: 95
Like someone else already said, Velazquez was already off of AK months ago.
inspite of knowing Verrazano will win the WOOD/ but i still took a chance with Normandy Invasion a $100 dollars bet?
hey tony dont say that just yet(even though he is the house rider for pletcher) he rides alot of shugs monsters too. remember he took off animal kingdom in dubai to ride orb
Looks like Orb needs a rider?
Since the Tampa Bay Derby, I knew this guy was special. He has a talent only one in thousands of horses have. However, he will doubtfully be my Derby horse. He proved he can rate and he proved he can be challenged. He also proved he can travel and handle many surfaces. However, I don't think he'll win the Derby. He is a colt who is lightly raced and lack of foundation (four races)... I don't, nor never, liked his feet. I'm afraid maybe a four three year old races might be too much too soon for a colt who is so young. He doesn't have a great 10 furlong pedigree and neither does his performance. Normandy would have caught him with more ground... Verrazano will face him and many other quality late speed colts in the Derby. He passed every test we've thrown at him, but I think the last test (huge crowd, 20 horses, weird surface, 10 furlongs) might be a tough task for this very talented colt. JMO.
Not sure what to make of Verrazano's performance today. He did what he had to but, for the first to me, seems like he may have a hard time getting 10f.

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