UNBEATEN More Than Ready colt Verrazano has swept away his rivals including the previously unbeaten Vyjack to add the $1m Grade 1 Wood Memorial to his tally and tighten his hold on the Kentucky Derby in the process.
The Todd Pletcher-trained 3YO introduced himself with a stunning 7 3/4-lens at Gulfstream Park on New Year’s Day.
He returned to the scene a month later to blaze away to an incredible 16 1/4-lens romp in an allowance after which he started to enter the Kentucky Derby frame.
Verrazano subsequently took hold of pre-post favouritism for the Derby following his 3-lens win in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, a race taken out by 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense along his way to Churchill Downs glory.
Verrazano’s weekend Wood Memorial win against a host of Kentucky Derby hopefuls including crack colt Vyjack (who was 3rd) makes him the clear standout in the countdown to the run to the roses.
Verrazano is aiming to become only the eighth horse to win the Derby while undefeated.
The last horse to achieve that feat was Vinery stallion Big Brown in 2008.
While Verrazno’s sire More Than Ready has carved out a reputation as the world’s number one source of champion 2YO’s, his capacity to sire milers and classic horses is often overlooked.
Only hours before Verrazano’s Wood Memorial win, Perth filly Moreish scored a commanding win in the WATC Oaks (2400m).
Trained by Sharon Miller, Moreish’s wins in the 1000 Guineas and Natasha Stakes ahead of Saturday’s Oaks triumph mirrors the efforts of another More Than ready filly, Dreamaway, who went on to add the WATC Derby.
Both Moreish and Dreamaway are out of mares by Danehill, so too the stallion’s reigning NZ Oaks winner More Than Sacred who is seeking to become the first filly since Grosvenor miss Domino in 1990 to win the Trans-Tasman Oaks double when she lines-up at Royal Randwick in the Group 1 ATC Australasian Oaks (2400m) on April 20.