• La Coronel (5-1) leads them all the way in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.Posted 2 days ago
  • Rubilinda (6-5) finds the wire just in time to take the Pebbles Stakes.Posted 2 days ago
  • Engage (1-2) rolls home from last to win the Grade 3 Futurity Stakes.Posted 2 days ago
  • Bolt d'Oro is the 12-1 favorite in the current Las Vegas line for Kentucky Derby 2018.Posted 5 days ago
  • Romantic Vision (6-1) takes the sloppy Spinster (G1) at Keeneland.Posted 8 days ago
  • Unique Bella (1-5) returns with a clear victory in the L. A. Woman (G3) at Santa Anita.Posted 8 days ago
  • Flameaway (5-1) wins a three-horse photo finish in the Dixiana Bourbon (G3) at a wet Keeneland.Posted 8 days ago
  • War Flag (9-1) wins the stretch battle in Belmont's Flower Bowl (G1).Posted 8 days ago
  • Separationofpowers (9-5) impresses in the Frizette at Belmont Park.Posted 8 days ago
  • Roy H (4-5) lives up to favoritism in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.Posted 9 days ago
Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:

Verrazano Undefeated But Not Untested...Really?

Verrazano remains undefeated after his visually impressive, in-hand Wood Memorial victory.  In the process, he stamps himself as the undisputed Kentucky Derby favorite.  Clearly, this colt needs to be considered a serious contender despite finding the pace and competition conditions experienced in each of his four lifetime starts quite to his liking.  Verrazano is clearly a sustained presser type that is most comfortable being part of the early action.  Will the Kentucky Derby pace be as accommodating to Verrazano as it was in his final preps?  We’ll know more about the Derby pace scenario once the final preps are completed this upcoming weekend.  But, let’s take a look at the Wood Memorial and how it was run for clues as to how much Verrazano was truly tested.



The third line in the chart above shows the splits for the Wood Memorial.  I then compared these splits to other route races run on the card at Aqueduct.  I want to draw your attention to the G2 Gazelle Stakes for fillies and let’s compare the splits produced in that contest and compare them to the splits cut in the Wood Memorial.  What I found particularly striking was the difference in the 6-furlong fractions yielded in these two stakes races.  Note that the Wood Memorial 6-furlong split was run nearly 3 seconds slower than what was posted by the fillies in the Gazelle stakes.  Wow!...now that is remarkable.  I also decided to pull up the fractions produced in the Santa Anita Derby.  This race was run at a fair but moderate pace for the Santa Anita surface.  While the SA and AQU surfaces are different and difficult to compare…regardless, the difference in the splits yielded in these two races was quite impressive.  In fact, if you look at other races run on the Aqueduct undercard, you’ll find that a few of the 7 furlong heats were run much faster than 7 furlong races contested on the Santa Anita undercard.


So, you be the judge…was Verrazano “tested” or did he and Vyjack both have plenty of energy left in the tank after negotiating the dawdling pace to run on even terms with one another throughout the stretch?  Who ran the best race?  You would have to give serious consideration to closer, Normandy Invasion, who overcame the slow pace to run fastest of all in the final two furlongs in this race.


In what will be one of the more contentious Kentucky Derby fields in recent memory, eliminate the noise, hype and all the distractions and focus on “how” these horses have run their preps and how that compares to 20 years of historical performance thresholds.  Go to www.superscreener.com to learn more about how you can get an insiders view of what it take so win and finish on the board in the Kentucky Derby.




comments powered by Disqus

Older Comments about Verrazano Undefeated But Not Untested...Really?...

Saw a Secetariat move on the far turn then he flattened
  • TyroneMerien · Flattened? Verrazano is a push button horse, JV just pushed the button to get by the horse that was in front and then put him back in cruise control, when Vijack came to close in the home stretch he again accelerated to move away, JV said he never saw Normandy Invasion, that would have been a big mistake if Verrezano had lost, bottomline is we have yet to see the best of this colt · 1651 days ago
quote ubiquitous wood winner remindd me of big brown...Except this one is not a frankenstein MADE by Winstrol injections.
NI acted green down the sretch run until the final 150 yards when he finally did close on The Big V's He had plenty more left in the tank. He will need a good rip i the Derby to show what he's got. Bottomline, it is a Pitino sort of year. Goldencents has the tactical cruising speed and closing style to win it all. He is FAST!
ubiquitous wood winner remindd me of big brown
@genuis, i completely agree with you, Verrazano was never asked by JV to go full throttle!
how in the world I'm mean how do people make such inane comments as NI ran the best race?? He LOST!! saved ground was a length yup a length off Verazzano entering the far turn with zero zero excuse and he never went passed...except on the gallop out so give him the gallop out prize but geezus christ wake up bro...Verazzano untouched by the stick ran the last 3/8ths in 36.50 the last 1/8th in 12.50 far better than all other preps and he did it sans whip..faster last 3/8ths than the first..He Yes He Ran The Best Race!!
"Looking at the race, he was waiting on horses and every time he was challenged, he answered the call," said McCarthy of Verrazano. "It was a very good prep race. He got a lot out of it without doing too much."
You see a lot of speed? Where pray tell, is that going to originate?
In my humble opinion, i think Normandy Invasion ran the best race, and will be a serious contender in the derby. I see a lot of early speed in the derby, and Normandy Invasion with a great closing kick,. can win going away.
I will agree that Verrazano has been challenged and passed that test. My point is that the Wood wasn't VISUALLY impressive. It was a very workman-like win for a colt that normally wins by a margin. I know all wins can't be blow-outs, but as far as being visually impressive goes, I liked Orb's Florida Derby win better than Verrazano's Wood Memorial victory. The splits were very close in nature for both races, but Orb closed to win going away on a track that is not very kind to horses that like to sit off the pace.
Are we just gonna keep saying hes untested untill he looses? I dont get it he face quality competion in his last 2 starts.
  • ismalli · Agree, remember when Rachel Alexandra could never beat the boys? · 1653 days ago
  • dlh · The Tampa Bay race was not quality competion.That field was terrible.The Wood was very slow. · 1653 days ago
quote: They ran faster at the end of the race than in the beginning and that's a good thing. ONLY tells us how tepid that entire field was, impotent pace wise.
Is Orb the only challenge to Verrazano?
I had hurt Violence, Verrazano is next best in this race but Uncaptured sure likes CH
They ran faster at the end of the race than in the beginning and that's a good thing. At that point they were running into a very strong wind.
JV will ride one of the horses. He is fine. Maybe Lanerie, or Talamo will pick up the other mount.
Apparently nobody is reading my post! New Jockeys possible for Verazzano and Orb!
Verrazano wasn't all out, more of a hand ride. Good performances from the top 3. Vyjack looks like he doesn't want any more ground. Normandy closed well into a paceless race.
New York Times Jockey John Velazquez injured in Aqueduct spill Yahoo! Sports-1 hour ago NEW YORK (AP) -- Jockey John Velazquez was removed from the track on a stretcher one day after winning the $1 million Wood Memorial ... As Derby Favorite, Verrazano Beats Traffic in Queens
Were Orb's FL Derby #'s impressive?

Related Pages


About Me

Mike has been a passionate horseracing fan for over 30 years. He received his “handicapping education” through countless hours of deciphering the mystery that is embedded in every race. It was the tough beats at the window, however, that propelled him to never make the same mistake twice (well, maybe three times).

As Managing Partner of Horse Racing Nation, Mike serves as investor, business advisor, staff handicapper and developer of handicapping content.

Handicapping the Derby has always been one of Mike's favorite endeavors.  He spends weeks compiling notes, speed figures and analysis in preparation for the big race.  In 2010, his HRN pals pushed him into packaging his time-tested methods into what became the 2010 Kentucky Derby Super Screener, an e-book that became extremely popular with HRN readers and was downloaded over 3,000 times.   

In preparation for the 2011 Derby, Mike will be "Rating the Preps" each weekend on the Derby trail.  The goal will be to build a good picture for which prep races are most likely to produce the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner.   

Related Stories

Top Stories