HRN Original Blog:
The Kentucky Derby Post

Verrazano and Govenor Charlie Aim to Change History

“Records are meant to be broken.” Although the statistics generally prove that statement to be an accurate measurement of triumphs yet to be shattered, there are always going to be new records waiting. And for some, they have been waiting for quite a long time. When it comes to the Kentucky Derby the great Secretariat still stands as the fastest that ever was. His winning time of 1:59.40 has been challenged but no horse has ever been able to finish any better than the greatest Triple Crown champion of all time. Until that happens, the old saying will be exactly that; an old saying.
Records are one thing and so called trends are another. Trends in sports can sometimes be short lived and therefore quickly forgotten. Others however seem as though they will never end and eventually become known as a curse. America’s past time is a prime example. The Boston Red Sox endured a drought for far too long, but they eventually reached their limit and came roaring out of their hole in 2004 for the first time in 86 years. As for the Chicago Cubs their drought has reached 105 years, and the so called curse continues.
Now back to the Kentucky Derby and the ultimate trend that has withstood the test of time. Since Apollo in 1882 there has never been another Kentucky Derby winner who did not race as a 2-year-old.
130 years is a long time so it must be rare that anyone tries to win the Kentucky Derby with this approach. Absolutely not. Actually, if you only go back to the 1940’s there have been over 50 attempts at ending the curse. Therefore, it’s not a trend that has not been tested. It has and it also includes so many good horses. What it comes down to is that this trend is proof that the Kentucky Derby is a race that takes much time and preparation in order to win. 
So if some records or trends are meant to be broken the question here is, when and who will be the next Apollo? For those that remember 2012 was only a sixteenth away from being the answer.
Bodemeister entered the Kentucky Derby red hot. He was beaming with confidence after a 9 ½ length pounding of the field in the Arkansas Derby. But he wasn’t just sizzling on the track he was just as hot off of it. With a catchy name, a great story, a veteran rider and legendary trainer, Bodemeister’s fan base just kept growing day by day. The momentum would stick with him all the way to the post as Bodemeister entered the starting gate as the favorite in the 138th Kentucky Derby.
When he broke to the front, took the lead and held it all the through the top of the stretch it appeared that Apollo had finally found a friend. But, the final furlong is always the toughest. I’ll Have Another had his way and not only did he claim the roses but he left us having the same conversation all over again in 2013. Our recent Kentucky Derby champion isn’t the only reason we’re having this discussion again. You must first have a horse that didn’t race as a Juvenile and this spring we have two.
Will Verrazano or Govenor Charlie be the next? They’re definitely chasing Apollo but whether or not they can catch him will be a very interesting race to watch over the next several days.

Verrazano qualifies for this trend by the slimmest amount of time possible. Foaled on January 27, 2010 the son of More Than Ready began his racing career on January 1, 2013 at Gulfstream Park.  Verrazano proved he was ready to begin racing. His maiden win by more than 7 lengths was special but it was pale in comparison to his second lifetime race on February 2. His dominant 16 length victory over a distance of 1 Mile gave trainer Todd Pletcher and Let’s Go Stable the sign that his trail to the Kentucky Derby was ready to begin.
And so it did at the G2 Tampa Bay Derby. And winning didn’t stop either. His next one took him to the G1 Wood Memorial and after winning again, he’s made his case as a legitimate Kentucky Derby winner. He’s got a perfect record on paper and you can hardly find a blemish anywhere else. But, when you look a little closer he didn’t actually race as a Juvenile. Will this hurt his chances or will he catch Apollo?
Who knew that much about Govenor Charlie before he blitzed through the Sunland Derby and set a new track record for the distance 1 1/8 Mile at Sunland Park? If you didn’t he probably caught your attention. Foaled on February 23, 2010 by Midnight Lute and Silverbulletway, Governor Charlie also began his racing career this past January. Besides being 18 days later than Verrazano’s debut, he also wasn’t as fortunate. Instead, he finished 2nd by a half length and would have to try again.
Trainer Bob Baffert returned him to Santa Anita on February 17 and that was when Govenor Charlie was ready. He would win and Baffert was prepared to try him in his first graded stakes race next. The track was lightening fast, the pace was hot and the end Govenor Charlie was too fast to catch. Does this sound a little bit like Bodemeister? The margin of victory wasn’t nearly as big as Bode’s in the Arkansas Derby but these two colts do resemble each other just a little bit. But, that might be because of the Bob Baffert more than anything else.
When you compare them side by side the one BIG difference is that Bode ran in two graded stakes races before the Kentucky Derby. Governor Charlie on the other hand completed his trail to the Churchill Downs with the Sunland Derby. So, will that blemish on his resume coupled with the fact that he never raced as a Juvenile prevent him from becoming the next Apollo? Or do you believe that he will?
As for Bob Baffert it seems to me that he’s thought about Apollo once or twice before. Before Bodemeister he tried it with Midnight Interlude in 2011. Although he won the Santa Anita Derby and earned a spot in the Kentucky Derby field, the next challenge was too tough. It may have been a shot worth taking but a 16th place finish defined him as a horse that never had a chance of breaking the curse. So, if Govenor Charlie stays healthy and remains a part of the Kentucky Derby field it will be Baffert’s third attempt in three consecutive years.
Other attempts that you may recall starts with an eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner. In 2007, the undefeated Curlin came into the Kentucky Derby a perfect 3 for 3 and winner of the Arkansas Derby. Except it wasn’t his day as a late surge from well off the pace was only good enough for 3rd. Another valiant attempt that fell just short was in 1994 when Strodes Creek and jockey Eddie Delahoussaye took a shot at Go For Gin but finished 2nd.
Verrazano appears to be the more likely horse capable of overcoming a trend that is so hard to fathom ever being duplicated again. Govenor Charlie made a case for himself but if he is to become the first horse to win without racing as a juvenile, he’ll probably have to carbon copy his Sunland Derby performance: Fast and too quick to catch. That’s not to say that Verrazano can overtake the trend that has lasted over 100 years without a freakish or at least breathe taking performance either. Both horses will need to be special and that may be asking too much.   
But as long as they enter the starting gate the game is on. The most perfect place in the racing world to make history is underneath the twin spires on the first Saturday in May. So, the stage is set. Will Verrazano or Govenor Charlie be game enough? 


comments powered by Disqus

Older Comments about Verrazano and Govenor Charlie Aim to Change History...

Well there it is, the early Ky.Derby favorite Verrazano did-not race at 2 and no horse has won the Ky. Derby since 1882 having not raced at 2, that's 130yrs., so much for this yrs. early Ky. Derby favorite, time to find a new horse to put your $$$$$ on.
Govenor Charlie!
GC won't be in the first half of the field at the finish. Verrazano will have to fight, Orb, Rev, And Goldencents for the win. If Java's War should suddenly learn to run out of the gate instead of walk, watch out. That was a nice 2nd he ran at TB said it once and i.ll say it again.... Govenor Charlie will pace behind the lead and will take CHARGE in the second turn- i saw him in the Sunland Deby, and he was a MONSTER in the final 400 yards. with M. Garica abroad the Govenor will prove that the Sunland Derby is more than just a free 50 points & $400,000 derby prep race-
Dani. I understand that, but he hasn't tasted a tough pace in a true route distance. He has pure speed, hence his first two wins and pace, but can he distribute that energy going ten furlongs? The Wood, definitely, was a step in the right condition as he learned tons of new things. But, I have to acknowledge the fact, he had an EASY pace. Seriously, 25 flat, 50, 1:13 and change? Going nine furlongs? He won't get that in the Debry. I think he might be forced to the front positionally (however, he has never shown the route speed Goldy has) and burn himself, or, Johnny could let him run naturally, but V must do something he hasnt done before: sit in third or fourth. Johnny's comments were interesting concerning the fact he "didn't hit him." I believe there is a different level of V we have yet to see, as he is a special horse, as I noted after the TB Derby. I'd like to point out, I'll Have Another had five races, as did Barbaro. Barbaro, had multiple nine furlong preps, so he was well seasoned. My poin is, to overcome three-four race seasoning, the horse must have immense talent. Big Brown, Animal Kingdom we would both agree are damn fine animals. I think Verrazano has potential to be very good, but I hold the fact he has not faced the pace pressure that Orb, Rev, etc have faced.
Rafirox, actually V has seen better tha 46 and 1.11. His maiden and allowance wins, where he was right up on the half in 45 in change and a 1.09 and change three quarters. He moved to slower tracks and saw slower times. In the Wood he did not set the pace, easily could have with the flyer he caught from the gate, but was reined in behind the pacesetter for the first half mile, until asked very suddenly to pick it up. He does lack seasoning, which could explain why he tends to wait on other horses, he's used to crusing in the strech. Thanks to the Wood, he probably won't do that. Also, four races is not as big a deal as it sounds. IHA, last year's winner had only four races before he ran in the Derby. Barbaro, only had five. Big Brown had three. Animal Kingdom 4. Having that foundation hasn't really been as needed in recent years, as it used to be.
Hey, CFC. I am guilty of overlooking Bodemeister in the Derby, I thought he would plummet under that pace I projected, but he kept going. Bodemeister showed immense raw talent in the San Felipe (?) against Creative Cause (Who was my Derby horse, I had him in the Juvenile, San Felipe, SA Derby, and KY Derby last year) and than came and just romped the Arkansas Derby. I understand Bodemeister wasn't seasoned properly either, however, he showed, IMO, much more raw talent, pure speed, he had a major prep, and he face better competition. Governor Charlie faced some G3-type colts, but no serious talent. Bodemeister, on the other hand, lost to Creative Cause in his third start, and beat Secret Circle by nine lengths in the ARK Derby. These young colts, and geldings, are more seasoned with each race and each prep,, assuming they are developing properly, improve off of it. The Sunland Derby is in a weird time where the trainer chooses to come off short rest for a mjor prep, or wait six weeks for the Derby. A racehorse who only raced three times, agaisnt weak pace pressure, coming off six weeks rest, would he contest, let alone win? Those are my two cents, as I believe he is a throw out and not compared to Bodemeister. Sure, a three race seasoned horse could conest (Curlin, I had Hard Spun), or win (Big Brown, I got killed in that Derby!) So, it can be done, but those racehorses showed immense talent before the Derby. IMO. Goveror Charlie hasn't done that yet.
@rafirox. I would agree with you on the seasoning(or lack of it) for Governor Charlie. But, why does this horse remind me so much of Bodemeister(Baffert)?
I write both off for a variety of reasons... Governo Charlie: He's only raced three times (SEASONING???), his Sunland Derby was against a very weak field, he ran on a janked up surface, he doesn't catch my eye, and he hasn't faced any good colts. Verrazano: Four races (Seasoning? Better, but still?), He's never tasted a 46 111 pace, he has many issues... He's not one I think that handles the crowd and the wall of noise in the stretch.... Orb, Goldencents, Java's War, Palace Malice, Normandy Invasion, Revolutionary and Mylute are my contenders. I have no idea what to expect from Lines of Battle, and he will be provived extra study, but I don't like him.
i right him off for other reasons
If Verrazano started his career a day sooner, he wouldn't be involved in this discussion? To write him off based upon a Jan. 1 start is silly...he's at the top of this class and has the right running style for a Derby victory.
  • kentuckyderbypost · Yes but this is where it gets a little tricky. Yes, one day sooner he would't be in the "Apollo" discussion but he would still qualify as starting his racing career a bit too late. Over the last 15 years no KyDerby winner except Fusaichi Pegasus waited until Dec of the Juvenile season to begin racing (12/11). Didn't have to time to go too far back but it's pretty obvious that horses who start their career in the summer or fall of the 2-yr-old season have the best chance. · 2128 days ago
I'll go against both of them.
Governor Charlie has been and will remain my top horse so long as he stays sound. I am afraid that the hoof issue may be bigger than feared because he hasn't had a work in so long and by many accounts didn't look smooth in his last gallop. That being said Baffert is a Derby genius, and he did wonder's with his sire (best training job in BC history bar-none). Governor Charlier has everything one wants in a Derby horse, he only continues to progress in his races while Verrazano looked done in the Wood after a weak pace and NI easily passed him just after the wire. I give Verrazano little to no chance, Charlie has been my #1 horse the whole way through (followed by Rev., NI, and Orb). It's just a question if he'll be sound and ready by Derby day given that he is behind schedule.
correction: MOST are exposed for not having the seasoning by that earlier shifting energy distribution.
One can NEVER actually put anynumber on the ffect of seasoning on a thoroughbred but it cannot be injected, or placed around a colt's neck, it has to be expereinced. Most show it by running sucessively earlier the longer the challenge distance
I don't like Govenor Charlie due to his recent problems with his feet. I do give Verrazano a bit of a chance.
The chances of this trend continuing are excellent.
I'm leery about getting too high on the Sunland winners. Before Mine That Bird made that particular route fashionable and the new system made those preps worth points, I would argue that not too many top tier horses raced at Sunland. Granted Govenor Charlie's 9 F Sunland record is nearly the same as Quality Road's record at the same distance at Gulfstream, but that's apples and oranges.
After 40+ years of following this sport, it's hard enough trying to beat it, let alone bucking HISTORY... especially when it comes to the Derby.

Related Pages

About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer  


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State, I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. It was there that my attraction to the Sport of Kings began. In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance, and the tradition continues annually because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, Ky., on Derby Day.

Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champion's trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. It begins when 2-year-olds hit the track continues until the field is set, the picks are in, and the roses are awarded. 

Twitter: @thederbypost

Best of the Blogs

Top Stories