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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Pletcher Gambling Big with Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby

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. Super Saver 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.


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Older Comments about Pletcher Gambling Big with Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby...

Golden Gate has an elevation of 0 ft, the horses there seem to post slow times.
  • CauseForConcern · Oh, I forgot about GG bein 0 elevation. I had heard this theory, ironically, involving the SF 49'ers, and playing at Kesar Stadium. They stated that when the tide was up, that the ground would be saturated, even if there was no rain in the forecast. · 1705 days ago
Like all other races, if Verrazano is best on that day he will win, itdoesnt matter if they run under sea level or at mile high stadium. Pletcher has a tough situation, he needs to get points for all 10 of his TC nominated horses, without knocking himself out of the field.
learn about evaporation and water in the air, my goodness http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dew_point
Sully, my point is the lower elevation could lead to a wetter track, possibly slowing it down. Depends on the amount of percipitation in the area honestly. If TBD gets lots of rain, the track could retain the more moisture for a longer period of time than some place that is at sea level or slightly above. That can make the track produce slower times. You are correct, that a horse coming from a much lower altitude to a higher one would have difficult because it's harder to breath, but to those there and used to it, it would have little effect because thier bodies are used to it. A track that is wet and slow will always be wet and slow and always produce times that are lesser than a track that is harder and not as deep.
Human athletes tend to perform less efficiently at higher elevations because it's harder to breathe. Not getting it.
I haven't heard that. Elevation could play a roll, it depends on the moisture the area gets though honestly. I would think lower elevation would retain more moisture, slowing the track, while higher elevations would retain less. Again, it depends on the percipitation. Many things could go into how a track plays.
Or a better theory may be it may be due to the talent running at the aforementioned tracks than any unproven theories.
That may be due to the surface, not the elevation.
Did I just read that? ;)
dani.pugh - someone once mentioned to me that the Tampa Bay track was one, if not the only, track that was actually under sea level. Therefore, times would be somewhat slower when the tide was up. Have you heard of any fact/theory of this nature?
Don't know the details, but that would be the Debutante.
Canonero had as I recall, three 10 furlong races in South American after shipping out from Del Mar where he was not fast enough in the Del mar Futurity against females.
I always thought that in order to really KNOW about a colts distance capabilities, a trainer should look for TWO 9 furlong tests...Maybe even the first one in an allowance situation just to see what they have and what he needed to work on.
Two of THE BEST trainers of my day, Whittingham and Woody did not care so much the outcome of a race but more in what their horse got out of it for a bigger loftier role down the line. SO WHAT if the horse is in a tight or wrong spot if the trainer is using this race as a training source to find out what he really needs to know to make the three year old better down the line.
Super Saver "still came up short"????? Didn't come up so short in the Kentucky Derby....
You say Super
I actually like this move for Verrazano, but the field is coming up stronger than I had anticipated. This year's TB Derby looks like it's shaping up to be a good one.
Uncapture who has shown an affinity for the CD surface finally had a recorded work this morning.
I work with a group of investors out of Reno and they love the Tampa Bay surface...I do not agree with them, but they love it

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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