A very eager Verrazano lived up to all the hype by easily dispatching a very talented G2 Tampa Bay Derby field. Breaking from the six hole under John Velazquez, the strapping More Than Ready colt stumbled slightly leaving the gate. Unfazed, he quickly got into the bridle to go after the lead with Falling Sky. He fought Velazquez during the early stages of the race, but once Velazquez guided him off the rail, he settled nicely and moved up to take the lead away from the Sam F. Davis winner. Turning for home, he easily pulled away to stop the clock in 1.43:96 for the mile and a sixteenth affair while being ridden out.
Java’s War, who typically takes up a nice stalking position, was way out of it early and racing in last. He closed strongly to run past Falling Sky and finish second, 3 ½ lengths behind still undefeated Verrazano. Falling Sky, who pressed Verrazano with every stride, gave way to finish third. Dynamic Sky, the Sam F. Davis runner-up, again checked in right behind Falling Sky to grab a few more Kentucky Derby points while finishing fourth.
Previously undefeated Purple Egg was forwardly placed early but dropped out of it about half way through the race. After being within a length and a half of the lead at the half mile call, he dropped back and finished ninth and last, beaten by 28 lengths.
Verrazano pretty much assured himself a spot in this year’s Kentucky Derby field with today’s win which was worth 50 points. Java’s War made a big leap up the board with his new total of 22 points. Falling Sky also jumped up a bit and now has a total of 20 points, and Dynamic Sky added 5 points for his fourth place finish for a total of 13 points.
It is safe to say that Verrazano quelled any doubts anyone, including myself, might have had about his abilities. Too often we see young colts take the track by storm, put in a couple of dazzling efforts, and then fall short when they step up in class. That was certainly not the case for the talented Todd Pletcher trainee today at Tampa Bay Downs. He took right to the track’s quirky surface, something that will only aid him at Churchill Downs as the two tracks have similar surfaces. So long as he continues to progress in the same manner, his brilliant performances will be tough to beat.