Verrazano (More Than Ready) turned in his final morning drill at Palm Meadows yesterday before he puts his undefeated record on the line in Aqueduct’s GI Wood Memorial S. Report from TDN
Saturday. Working in company with stablemate Discreet Dancer (Discreet Cat), who will contest the GI Carter H. on the Wood undercard, Verrazano was clocked in a fastestof-17 1:01.17 for five
AI thought it was another excellent work, pretty much what we have come to expect of [Verrazano] in the morning,” trainer Todd Pletcher said of Let’s Go Stable, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s GII Tampa Bay Derby victor.
“It was very good, and a strong gallop out; very pleased. Discreet Dancer also worked well and is on schedule for the Carter.”
Verrazano, a half-brother to Let’s Go’s 2012 GII Risen Star S. winner El Padrino (Pulpit), earned his diploma by 7 3/4 lengths when unveiled sprinting at Gulfstream Jan. 1.
He had no problem with the stretch-out to a mile in a Feb. 2 optional claimer at Hallandale, romping
by a head-turning 16 1/4 lengths, and justified 2-5 favoritism in the Mar. 9 Tampa Bay Derby with a
decisive three-length tally. Pletcher was pleased with the added experience Verrazano gained in his black-type debut, and is hoping the bay will have the opportunity for another lesson in the Wood as he prepares for the GI Kentucky Derby May 3.
“We felt like he got a little bit of experience in Tampa in that he got behind a horse and got a little bit of dirt,” Pletcher explained. “Some experience certainly can help you in what I’m sure will be a full gate at Churchill. (Additional experience in the Wood), and the mile-and-an-eighth distance should also be helpful, hopefully, in preparing him for the Derby if we’re fortunate enough to go that route.” Verrazano and Discreet Dancer are expected to arrive in New York from Florida on Wednesday.
GII Jerome S. and GIII Gotham S. winner Vyjack (Into Mischief) worked Saturday at the Big A as he prepares to take on Verrazano (More Than Ready) in the GI Wood Memorial S. there one week later. Piloted by trainer Gustavo Rodriguez, deputizing for his suspended brother Rudy, Vyjack broke off two or three lengths behind stablemate Aussi Austin (Forestry), picked him up midway through the work and finished a head in front at the end with both runners under restraint. The Pick Six Racing colorbearer was clocked in 1:12.63 for six furlongs, with his stablemate receiving the same time (click for video).
They were the only two workers Saturday at the distance.
“He came home good, was relaxed, and set himself up perfectly for the race,” said owner David Wilkenfeld, who himself timed the work in 1:13 3/5. Rodriguez, who was looking to see Vyjack settle behind another horse in the drill, added, “We wanted the other horse to go and for [Vyjack] to relax. We want him to be relaxed, because when he runs in the Wood we want him to come from behind. I’m very, very happy with the work.”
Vyjack took his first two starts on the main track at Aqueduct before switching to the winterized inner track for the Jerome and Gotham. The Wood will be contested over the former.
“His first two races were on the main track, and he ran well in both of those races,” noted Wilkenfeld. “I think the wider turns will suit him better, and hopefully we’ll have an even, honest racetrack for the Wood and that the best horse will win.”
As for facing the formidable Verrazano, Wilkenfeld said, “I think Vyjack will be the best horse Verrazano has faced to date. There are some other quality 3-year-olds in the race, so I think it’s going to be one of the better prep races.”