Haskin's Derby Report: Give Verrazano a Break

Never before have I seen an undefeated Kentucky Derby favorite so maligned after having won a race. Following Verrazano’s three-quarters of a length victory in the Wood Memorial over proven stakes horses Normandy Invasion and previously unbeaten Vyjack, many on the colt’s bandwagon began jumping off, and many who wanted to wait for the Wood before hopping on, said, “No thanks.”

I’ve heard about deserting a sinking ship, but never deserting a ship still afloat and on time toward its destination.

I’m not saying Verrazano is going to win the Kentucky Derby, and I’m not about to dissect his performance in the Wood other than to say he did show a new dimension regarding the ability to settle off the pace, and he did come home in splits of :23 4/5, :24, and :12 3/5, which not only are strong, but are fractions you see from late closers.

When you look at him next to other horses, he looks like Hercules next to mere mortals.

What I find surprising about all the criticism is that the majority of them are based on the narrow margin of victory and slow time (slow pace makes for slow time), and the overall conclusion that the colt’s so-called superstar status was exposed.

My reply to that is, so what? Since when does it take a superstar or a spectacular effort in the final prep to win the Kentucky Derby? What good did it do Bellamy Road and his 17 1/2-length victory and 120 Beyer figure in the Wood Memorial?

If there is one thing history has taught us, it’s that Sigmund Freud’s comment, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” can also apply to the Kentucky Derby trail. Sometimes a prep is just a prep.

Just as a reminder to those who have now dismissed Verrazano as a potential Kentucky Derby winner, take note of past Derbys.

In 2006, Barbaro was undefeated and the 8-5 favorite in the Florida Derby. However, he hooked up in a stretch duel with the 6-1 Sharp Humor and was all out to win by a mere half length. He came back and romped by 6 1/2 lengths in the Kentucky Derby, with Sharp Humor struggling home in 19th.

In 2010, Super Saver was the 8-5 favorite in the Arkansas Derby, but was beaten a neck by 17-1 longshot Line of David. Super Saver went on to win the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/2 lengths, while Line of David finished 18th, beaten more than 60 lengths.

In 2007, Street Sense was even-money in the Blue Grass Stakes, but was beaten a nose by 8-1 Dominican. Street Sense captured the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/4 lengths, while Dominican finished 11th, beaten nearly 18 lengths.

In 1996, Grindstone was 8-5 in the Arkansas Derby, but was beaten a neck by 11-1 Zarb’s Magic. Grindstone came back to win the Kentucky Derby with a furious late rush, while Zarb’s Magic finished 13th, beaten 17 lengths.

In 2001, Monarchos was 4-5 in the Wood Memorial, but was beaten nearly three lengths by the lightly raced Congaree. Monarchos went on to win the Kentucky Derby 4 3/4-lengths, running the second-fastest time in Derby history.

In 1992, Lil E. Tee was 2-1 in the Arkansas Derby, but was beaten a neck by Pine Bluff, Lil E. Tee won the Kentucky Derby by a length, with Pine Bluff finishing fifth, beaten 7 1/4 lengths.

In 1995, Thunder Gulch finished a dull fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes at 6-5, but came back to win the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/4 lengths at odds of 24-1. Wild Syn, who won the Blue Grass by 2 1/2 lengths, finished last of 19 in the Kentucky Derby, beaten 45 lengths.

In 2005, Giacomo finished fourth at 7-2 in the Santa Anita Derby behind 30-1 Buzzard’s Bay, but bounced back to win the Kentucky Derby by a half-length at 50-1, while Buzzard’s Bay finished fifth, beaten 6 1/4 lengths.

In 1994, Go For Gin was 4-5 in the Wood Memorial, but was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Irgun. Go For Gin came back to win the Kentucky Derby by two lengths, while Irgun was forced to withdraw with a foot injury.

Going back to 1975, Foolish Pleasure was 1-2 in the Wood Memorial, but was all out defeat 12-1 shot Bombay Duck by a head. Foolish Pleasure came back to win the Kentucky by 1 3/4 lengths, while Bombay Duck finished last of 15.

There are a number of instances in which horses turned the tables on the horse who defeated them in the final prep. Unbridled turned the tables on Summer Squall, who defeated him decisively in the Blue Grass. Funny Cide turned the tables on Empire Maker, who defeated him in the Wood Memorial. Ferdinand turned the tables on Snow Chief, who easily defeated him in the Santa Anita Derby. Genuine Risk turned the tables on Plugged Nickle, who defeated her in the Wood Memorial.

So, the point I’m making is, don’t dismiss a proven top-class horse in the Kentucky Derby just because he was beaten in or narrowly won his final prep, regardless of how unimpressive you think he looked. Remember, the vast majority of the horses mentioned above were heavy favorites in their final prep and were defeated or nearly defeated by horses far inferior to the horses Verrazano defeated in the Wood.


Leave a Comment:


I love your comment about slow pace making for slow time. As I remember, many people wrote off Zenyatta as well because her Beyer's were never that good and the time in her races weren't that good.  Verrazano (whose name is not only that of a bridge in NY, but a castle in Tuscany that makes incredible wine), was my favorite for the Wood and I thought he made it look easy.  

Goldencents was written off by a lot of people too, and yet he prevailed nicely in the Santa Anita Derby. I am a huge fan of Goldencents & Flashback (unfortunately, I won't get to see a rematch in the Kentucky Derby of that rivalry) & I like Verrazano too.  Guess we'll see in a few weeks how things turn out.  :)

09 Apr 2013 4:43 PM
Bill Two

You make good points here.  I remember seeing Seattle Slew win his Wood and was not impressed with him in that race.  Of course, he towered over the field and only did what he had to do to win.  If I recall, he beat a horse ridden by Steve Cauthen that day who was named Sanhedrin.  Not exactly the second coming of Secretariat.  Verrazano did exactly what he had to do to win the Wood.  As you say, it doesn't mean he will win the Derby and it doesn't mean he won't. More Than Ready - his sire - isn't known to be a distance influence.  In fact, he's more of a sprinter/miler turf influence.  But he's got a Giants Causeway mare going for him so who knows.  I prefer Orb because of his pedigree and evolving good form.  Plus he's got Shug as a trainer and he doesn't send horses to the Derby just so he can sip mint juleps.

09 Apr 2013 4:44 PM

Well said Steve!

09 Apr 2013 4:47 PM

Ill bet $100 with Andrew Beyer  and take Verrazanos lowly 95 figure against Goldencents 105(IHA ran a 101 in the SA Derby)in the Derby.

09 Apr 2013 5:20 PM


   With a few more speed horses now out of the derby, I could see a realistic scenario where Verrazano could win. He can "rate" if he needs to and will undoubtedly be "hugging" the rail on both turns.(saving even more ground than his opponents). Like everything else, it gets down to "price". Right now I would demand 9/2 or higher.

09 Apr 2013 5:37 PM
Mike Antonetti 2

You are absolutely right. Can´t argue with your logic especially when you did your homework so well. I wonder if Johnny V is reading this??? Should help him make up his mind.

09 Apr 2013 6:02 PM
Rusty Weisner

Steve Haskin,

From the title of this post I thought you were going to talk about what a great break Verrazano had in the Wood.  He was off like a shot.

I think he is going to have a very clean trip and could dictate the pace.  I don't see weaknesses, just unknowns.

09 Apr 2013 6:12 PM

Great column Steve--in fact it's your best one to date regarding this Derby. I think most people are remembering the most recent Derbys where off the pace horses have won but seemed to have forgot the ones that were won by horses that were on or close to the lead.

I recently yiewed the tapes of every Derby since 1972 when Riva Ridge went wire to wire and came up with 14 Derby winners who's running style Verrazano might very well try to emulate on May 4th.They are as follows----1972 Riva Ridge--76 Bold Forbes-77 Seattle Slew--78 Affirmed--83 Sunny's Halo--84 Swale--85 Spend A Buck--88 --Winning Colors--94 Go For Gin--95 Thunder Gulch---97 Silver Charm---2002 War Emblem--2003 Funny Cide and 2004 Smarty Jones.

I don't believe we've seen Verrazano's true potential in his last two races,not even close.We did see a glimpse of it in the allowance race at Gulfstream in February and that's the running style I believe we'll see him display in the Derby. Pletcher and V's owners have all stated he has an "incredibly high cruising speed",all he has to do is show it the way he did in February in that allowance race----and I truly believe he will come May 4th.

09 Apr 2013 6:13 PM

I actually loved Verrazano's Wood.  Johnny V rode a very smart race in my opinion.  He rated well, displayed his impressive turn of foot turning for home and then appeared to flatten out a bit, but I think looks are deceiving in this case. Pletcher said he "idled" when he made the lead.  When Vyjack came to him he held him off easily, then Normandy Invasion came but so did the wire.  My sense is that Verrazano was not all out by any means.  He got a couple of taps when Vyjack came to him but was hand-ridden the last sixteenth.  As for the time, as Steve points out, the slow pace made for a slow final time, but the last 3/16ths was very good.

I'm sticking with Verrazano so long as he looks good at Churchill and no one else steps up with a freakish Churchill work.

09 Apr 2013 6:32 PM

Sports fan are amazingly fickle, and horseracing fans are no exception. Not only do they say, "What race have you won for me lately," but they also will dismiss a winning horse who they feel ran too slowly or didn't beat a talented enough field or didn't score a high enough Beyer. No matter how good a horse is, no matter what he or she has done on the track, there are some people who refuse to give credit where it is due. To read some Derby posts and blogs, one would think the entire 3 year old crop was worthless. It seems like this happens each and every year. Like you said Mr. Haskins, prep races are exactly that - prep races. Verrazano has done nothing wrong IMO. Give him a break. I personally believe that he will run well in thr Derby should he stay healthy.

09 Apr 2013 6:35 PM

Wood memorial equals curse in my book.With recent lack of performance on derby day,I  always toss the wood winner for the win in the derby. The  winner of the wood seems to always get cursed!

09 Apr 2013 6:44 PM

I don't believe Verrazano was anywhere close to being beaten in the Wood.

09 Apr 2013 6:51 PM

Almost enough to make you skeptical about the points system, no?

09 Apr 2013 6:53 PM

I always enjoy your columns and reports Steve, but this one seems to make the case for Normandy rather than Verra... Comes in second in prep...wins Derby afterward...

09 Apr 2013 7:08 PM

Of all the slow-developing pace races the Wood was run with the fastest final 2 1/2-quarters, telling me, at least, that Verrazano may have been toying with that field and probably had much more left in the tank.

I wasn't able to see the race except on onscreen video and so I wasn't able to determine how much was taken out of V.  Was he blowing a lot and looking fatigued, or was he in fine fettle afterward?  That would mean something.

09 Apr 2013 7:27 PM

steve-great comparison to hercules i agree. i still say the best i've seen so far from a visual standpoint is war academy. we find out soon what he's all about. off the subject but who stands to benefit if the track comes up anything "other than fast" on derby day?

09 Apr 2013 7:36 PM
Steve Haskin

Writerx, in some ways, yes, but this column basically was about favorites/big-name horses who ran below expectations in their final prep. Normandy Invasion was the one who came close to upsetting the big favorite, so he doesnt really fit with the examples I gave. He does fit a little in general by running second, but that wasnt the angle of the column.

09 Apr 2013 7:42 PM

Odd. I didn't think Verrazano was almost beaten in the Wood. I thought he was holding off Normandy Invasion and would have continued to do so if the race had been a quarter-mile longer. I thought it was a professional performance in which he showed guts. I don't know that he will win the Derby -- he's probably third or fourth on my list right now and we'll see what happens over the weekend -- but he rose in my estimation Saturday, not fell.

09 Apr 2013 7:47 PM
Fran Loszynski

I always like to remind fans that jump ship early Don't forget Mine That Bird....50 to 1. You never know about the Derby I believe that track has a magic to it that only a racehorse knows!  As far as I am concerned every horse has a chance at the Twin Pires. Verrazano is in the front line as much as any other horse. It's going to be a neck and neck race.

09 Apr 2013 7:53 PM
Fran Loszynski

Forgot to ask Steve Do you think Isotapa will be in the Kentucky Oaks?

09 Apr 2013 7:56 PM
classic go go

Once again excellent synopsis of prior

09 Apr 2013 8:02 PM
Sail On

Before I bet against Verrazano to win I would like to know the name of the horse that would beat him to the wire, and how exactly that horse would put away Verrazano. At this moment Place and show are in contention, and Verrazano has not yet really run his race.

09 Apr 2013 8:03 PM
It aint easy being good!

My main question still is can he rate. I feel like he has to be on the lead and have noticed he has been in all his races. I think he had alot left in the tank but the big question is if he cant rate how fast will they go up front in the derby? I have a feeling we are going to see fast fractions come derby time that should bold well for a ultimate closer or upset alert!

09 Apr 2013 8:10 PM

Thanks for the point Steve. I have no idea how good Verrazano is or will be. But if you are this close to the Derby and you are already "in" it makes lots of sense to me to not extend the horse. In a short time this year Verrazano has won four and made it look easy. Normandy Invasion needed the second last Saturday. He looked good getting there. But he looked to me like he thought it was a race. We will see on Derby Day when all of these nice colts come together. I doubt if any of them will make it look easy that day. Thanks for your work. It is great reading.

09 Apr 2013 8:56 PM

Mr. Haskin,

“Never before have I seen an undefeated Kentucky Derby favorite so maligned after having won a race.”

Based on Verrazano’s first three

starts,he was regarded as the ‘Now Horse.’ His fans expected him to decimate the Wood field but instead he delivered a workman like performance in a time that no previous Wood winner has recorded en route to a Derby victory.

This has led many to conclude that he has been exposed as not being the wonder horse he has been proclaimed to be.

Those who did not buy into the hype are entitled to take their shots as those in support of the colt have been way over the top.

“When you look at him next to other horses, he looks like Hercules next to mere mortals’


Mine that Bird was the smallest horse in his Derby field and he embarrassed those with Herculean physique. Verrazano is a January foal and if he is blessed with a big frame he is going to tower over April and May foals. His size did not allow him to run away and hide from Normandy Invasion and it will not allow him to do so in the Derby.

“What I find surprising about all the criticism is that the majority of them are based on the narrow margin of victory and slow time”

The 2012 Wood winner Gemologist won in a work like manner in a slow time. He was also undefeated and also possessed a Herculean physique as he too was a January foal. He finished 18th in the Derby. There is a stark similarity between both colts.

There is a tendency for media personnels and fans to proclaim certain horses as superstars to the annoyance of many. Uncle Mo was a prime example.When these superstars do not deliver, reality sets in and opinions change.

Verrazano does deserve a break as he did what was necessary to win but does not deserve the hype.

With hype come expectations and failure to live up to said expectations result in negative views.

09 Apr 2013 9:21 PM

I know this article is about Verrazano but I cannot believe you omitted Secretariat from the list of Derby winners that failed to win the Wood.

09 Apr 2013 9:33 PM

BLINKERS ON is what VERRAZANO needs, and when he takes the lead he jump field by 5 instead if IDLING.

09 Apr 2013 9:38 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I just sent in a post on the Derby Dozen blog- I agree with others on here, Verrazano easily repelled any challenge and would have continued to do so if the race was longer, in my opinion. I was impressed. I'm not 100% thrilled with his stride but he seems to have a lot of speed, a good enough stride and a lot of stamina and he is a winner. It won't surprise me at all if he wins the Derby. He did what he needed to do in a hand ride. The time is irrelevant to me. His race was stronger than Goldencents in my eyes despite the Beyers discrepancy, which I don't use anyway. As Steve has so astutely pointed out, winning the Derby is a lot more than getting a blowout win in your final prep. The only reason I might want to see a blowout win is to see someone get more money bet on him on Derby day on a horse I don't like.

09 Apr 2013 9:43 PM

I do not think Verrazano can do it.He is by a sire with no previous classic contenders(not a first year stallion either) and modest speed figures.I am looking at Goldencents.Orb and the fastest horse at 1 1/8 miles on the trail this year Govenor Charlie(And he has a hall of fame trainer and his 2nd dam won over 3 million),It will be intersting to see who is right

09 Apr 2013 9:45 PM
Mike Monarchos

I saw Verrazano win the Tampa Bay Derby. He's a big, good looking colt who won easily while being ridden out. The Wood win didn't look impressive, but the time for the final 3/8 was. I couldn't really see the gallop out well on TV though, so I'm not sure about that. His sire (More Than Ready) was fourth in the 2000 Derby so Verrazano could get the Derby distance. He's in my top 5 now, but I won't know for sure where until I see when Pletcher sends him to Churchill. If I was an owner I would demand that my horse be at the Downs at least two weeks before Derby day.

09 Apr 2013 9:50 PM
Scott's Rail

An old newspaper reporter asked an old trainer, "What will it take for your horse to win this race?"  The old trainer ponders a few seconds and replies, "Being First at the finish line". That is exactly what Verranzo did.   Never in jeopardy, never in doubt.  Still have my ??? about the West Coast horses.   Going to take a long look at the Louisiana Derby field, and the figure 8 craziness that swallowed up the also rans.... Gotta get better than 6-1 first day of May. Thanx Steve, good horses should be respected.  Hell, all horses should be respected...

09 Apr 2013 10:14 PM
Scott's Rail


09 Apr 2013 10:15 PM

I looked up More Than Ready's top runners a impressive list of Aussie runners and turf horses.Call me a skeptic I am not drinking the Kool Aid.I am not betting on him Kentucky Derby day.If he wins I will admit I am wrong and that More Than Ready can sire a classic US horse who can run on dirt and is not just a sprinter

09 Apr 2013 10:31 PM

That's a fact, Jack!

When you look at him next to other horses, he looks like Hercules next to mere mortals.

09 Apr 2013 10:37 PM


Here is what I have in support of your argument; first of all I do my own figures, comparing the PAR’s of all the routes (2 turns) on the Wood Mem. Day, the Blue grass pace was slow6-3/4(for 4F), slow 7-3/4(for 6F0 and fast 2(9f). I all the prep races these final figures were exceeded by Verrazano only. Hence judging from the pace the final timing was pretty good. Yes compared to other 2 turn race that day this race was slow, but, they came home in a pretty good time(per the PAR’s of that day).

09 Apr 2013 10:49 PM

Pletcher's strategy for Verrazano in the TB Derby and Wood was to teach the horse to rate off the pace---mission accomplished. However,he never expected the pace to be so slow in the Wood,they expected the outside horse to take the lead and set considerably faster fractions for V to rate off of---they certainly didn't think the first two furlongs would go a tick under 25 and the half in a walking pace of almost 50. Johnny V had a virtual choke hold on the horse and that's NOT the horse's best running style. I guarantee we won't see V being held back in the Derby,he'll be allowed to use his natural speed to get into the race from the gitgo and whoever chooses to run with him early will pay the price.

09 Apr 2013 10:55 PM

I never jumped off the Thunder Gulch bandwagon.  Thanks for the validation !

09 Apr 2013 10:55 PM

the race was slow steve--if that doesn't bother you fine, but no matter how you spin it, the race was slow, and it isn't insulting or denigrating the horse to say so.

if any other horse on the derby trail ran that pace line, would you have defended him too? given that you keep saying the horse that ran the following pace line in his last derby prep is too slow to win the derby, i doubt it:

25.13, 23.86, 24.16, 24.85, 12.87

compare with verranzo's--25, 24.9, 24.12, 23.98, 12.55

these are pretty similar pace lines, the difference being primarily when each horse ran fast and slow happened at different, almost opposite points, in their races.

i'm not saying either horse is better or worse than the other, but your evaluation of both races/performances and what they mean moving forward seems a little hypocritical.

any horse that is as highly touted as verranzo, who can't come home 12.55, after crawling around the track for a mile, isn't much of a race horse--funny, that last year when hansen came home in the blue grass in 12.55 after setting blazing fractions, you said it confirmed he had distance limitations...but for verranzo, who moseyed around the track in fractions that would embarrass most claimers, it confirms he is the real deal, deserving of respect...ok...

to whoever made the zenyatta comparison--z never crawled home in 12:55 in her life--no come from the clouds closer could ever win closing that slowly, they wouldn't even be able to catch the field. z frequently came home in 11--she didn't run slow races, she ran inverted pace line races. there's a universe of difference.


09 Apr 2013 11:23 PM

There's no hype with Verrazano.  He is what he is.  An impressive winner in 4 races with big margins & speed to cover any class of horse he has faced.  That's all he's done.  He's done it being green as well.  Derby winner?  We don't know.  He'll be what he is!  

09 Apr 2013 11:25 PM

Thank you Steve! I watched the replay of the Wood and thought he was totally in control of his race. He is an extremely good looking colt and is on my short list along with Revolutionary and War Academy for the Derby.

09 Apr 2013 11:30 PM

Did anyone think Mine That Bird could do it because of his sire?  Secretariat?  Monarchos?  Sunday Silence?  

Correct me if I'm wrong but nobody wanted to buy Sunday Silence.  I'm pretty sure Animal Kingdom's sire was winless until 2011. What works for for me re: Verrazano, although I'm not sold is, his speed, when he needs it, is there & it's impressive.  He's not out there to lose even though you can have a JV who doesn't see a horse coming like Normandy Invasion. Is that the horse's fault?

09 Apr 2013 11:39 PM

Steve I completely agree here.  I have been making the Barbaro comparison myself, albeit Verrazano may or may not be quite Barbaro.  However, I did like his Wood and he is undefeated and he does look like a boy amongst men, just like Barbaro did.  Undefeated, that says something right there.  I am not deserting Verrazano or ItsMyLuckyDay.  Verrazano's times were not like Goldencents, but then again Goldencents was running on the Santa Anita Freeway.

I don't quite get it either, perhaps it's the stigma of the Wood itself and the taste of what happened to Uncle Mo is still fresh?  Maybe we are not viewing the Wood as a key prep or not placing enough emphasis on it as the Florida Derby?  I don't know what the answer is but I am surely counting Verrazano in.  Him, Rev, LuckyDay, Orb and Goldencents are my top 5 right now no matter how I toss it up and in no particular order.  Maybe your article Steve will "bridge the gap."

10 Apr 2013 12:26 AM
Lexington Bloodstock

Itsmyluckday with his experience and pedigree will put his lightly raced opponents to shame in the Kentucky Derby and prove that pedigree and foundation still rule in the sport.

10 Apr 2013 12:53 AM

I think the biggest strike against V is his lack of foundation, as he is unraced at two.  Name the last derby winner without a two year old race?  I have a slight bias in favor of Normandy Invasion since I took a pop on him in the futures but the horse I fear the most is Lucky Day.  He ran fast enough at two to contend at three and he has run two of the three fastest fig's for any tree year old this year.  He will have 14 weeks to recover from his track record holy bull by may 4, and he fits Steve's profile of running second as the favorite in the final prep.  He too has a high cruising speed (holy bull) and I believe that EP will have him fit as a fiddle on derby day.  He is the horse I will be watching closely in the 10 days before the race.  He likely will go off at longer odds than his 13-1 future wager as well.  I think he beats orb this time around. How about you?

10 Apr 2013 2:02 AM

I think that the new point system is pretty much going to put an end to those days where a trainer would send a colt into a Derby prep race with the intent to blow the opposition away by a large margin. The quality of Derby fields is going to be tougher now which means a trainer has to get the needed points but still have a horse with something left in the tank for the big race.

10 Apr 2013 3:34 AM
New Racing Fan

Steve, I enjoyed your weekly Derby Dozen. i point that I question about your #1, Revolutnary is this.  You referred to him getting bad trips. Can being among the last out of the gate on a cocsistent basis be considered a bad trip, or it more of a lack of skill, poor training response, or bad habit.  Can a horse that comes out of the gate late in the Derby even have a chance.  I recall many comments about union rags Derby run being over last year as soon he was pinched coming out of the gate.  I respect and look gorward to your incite on  Revolutionary's late  out of the gate history.

10 Apr 2013 4:23 AM
New Racing Fan

Moderator my last post accually belongs  in the Derby Dozen post. Can you move it to right place?

10 Apr 2013 4:27 AM

Sail On

“Verrazano has not yet really run his race”

Below is the opening sentence from the review of the Wood by a Bloodhorse Reports:

“Verrazano turned back the challenge of Gotham Stakes (gr. III) winner Vyjack and held off a late-closing Normandy Invasion.”

Verrazano has won two graded stakes and have not done any running in either.

In the TB Derby the runner up was the 35-1 Java’s War. He was returning from a 3 months break  and was making his second start on dirt after his first resulted in a 6th place finish in a slowly run G2 at Churchill Downs. He was the only one to make up ground on the wonder horse.

The runner up in the Wood was Normand Invasion. Are you aware that he only has a MSW victory to his credit and was making his second start for 2013 compared to Verrazano’s fourth? A maiden winner with suspect fitness got within 3/4L of the wonder horse.

Based on your statement above, Verrazano is waiting on the Derby to do his running.  He will give his maximum effort when he meets multiple graded stakes winners Goldencents, Orb and Revolutionary, Will Take Charge and Itmyluckyday.  

We appreciate the enlightenment.

Verrazano is the only 3YO colt that has not really run his race s yet. I guess he was either in hand or under gentle urging in his two graded stakes victories.  

Written reports do not concur with your assessment and you need to return to reality.

Statements similar to the one above are regarded as hype and will only result in the bashing of the colt.

10 Apr 2013 7:10 AM

"he did come home in splits of :23 4/5, :24, and :12 3/5, which not only are strong, but are fractions you see from late closers."

Come on Steve. You know that people are jumping of the wagon because they have NEVER seen this horse go out fast and stay. He controled every race he was in with slow fractions and come Derby Day we all know he won't have that luxury. Better to stay of a horse like that for better odds, than to back him. As for those "fast" fractions in the stretch of the Wood, it was obvious, as they CRAWLED that first 3/4 of a mile. Had the #10 broke fast the pace would have been much faster and we would have learned something. All we got to see was another badly run race by the jocks that let them go 1:13+. Even the #1 horse made a second move into the stretch becuse of the slow fractions. I not debating wheather you like or dislike Verrazzano, but I am just saying that in my opinion, he falters when the go 1;11 and change on Derby Day. You, of all people have seen enough racing to know this, undefeated or not.

10 Apr 2013 8:33 AM

I see a lot of comments about Mine That Bird. NOTE: (and I consider this one of my biggest blundes in handicapping)

Mine That Bird had one of the best angles in all of handicapping going into the Derby. He had looped the field in his prep and took the lead at the top of the stretch and THEN TIRED. Horses who do this generally come back and run AS GOOD OR BETTER than the winning time of that said prep, making Mine That Bird an awesome play at 50-1. For some reason, I decided that against the "best field in racing', I should overlook this horse and about 10 minutes to post, i used him in the #2 and 3 spots on my tickets. It cost me $$$$$$. PACE DOES MAKE THE RACE. Verrazzano hasn't should he can run with it yet. He runs in paceless races.

10 Apr 2013 8:40 AM
Paul Horton

I think the point you just made is that horses that win the Wood never win the Derby. However if they get out ran they can come back and win. Point is don't waste your money betting on horses than win the Wood Memorial. Sorry to disagree with your assessment.

10 Apr 2013 8:49 AM
Mary in VT

I'm with you Steve. Your points are very well made, as usual. I was delighted that Verrazano ran well within himself in the Wood vs needing a tank draining effort to get the win. If I am concerned about him at all it is to wonder if he got enough out of the race.  

10 Apr 2013 9:54 AM
Steve Haskin

New Racing fan, we are unable to switch from one blog to another. If you look at the head-ons of his races, you will see his problems were not caused by breaking slowly, but the horse next to him plowing into him. The one race he broke cleanly, his maiden race, he won by 8 1/2 lengths.

10 Apr 2013 9:59 AM

For those who point to the absence of Classic contenders from More Than Ready, he hadn't produce a single Derby prep winner either let alone two. He has never had a Derby starter if I remember correctly, let alone one of the favorites. To base one's decision on an analysis of all others rather than an analysis of this one, precludes the ability to identify an exception to the rule. He already has been the exception. Throw out the book. He doesn't play by the rules.

10 Apr 2013 10:01 AM
Rusty Weisner


Part of the explanation for some of the immoderate attacks on Verrazano have a psychological foundation.  It's the bravado of people steeling themselves to bet against a talented, dangerous undefeated horse because he's going to be the favorite.  If the favorite loses then you look great.  If the favorite wins there's no shame in betting against him.  For my part, I think he's dangerous and will be up front with a good trip.  I won't single him, but it's not because I'm so smart that I see his supposedly obvious weaknesses -- it's that there are just too many things that can "break" wrong for a favorite.  The two legitimate Derby favorites I bet were Street Sense and Big Brown.  This one just seems a shade less of a legitimate favorite to me. Then there are the irrational, superstitious things like the Wood or Apollo curses, or a reasonable bias against Pletcher for a poor Derby record, particularly his poor record from last year, where you had a horse in Gemologist who resembled Verrazano in the way he ran and won the Wood.

10 Apr 2013 10:10 AM
Rusty Weisner

Steve Haskin,

Sorry, but in the LA Derby he was just slow out of the gate.

10 Apr 2013 10:20 AM

Paul Horton; it seems you and I didn't read the same article.  I don't see this at all as an assessment of Wood Memorial winners or losers subsequent Derby success.  Rather, Steve is pointing out that many Derby winners under-performed in their last Derby prep resulting in bettors jumping ship.

10 Apr 2013 11:16 AM

Small horses like Mine That Bird are earlier to become balanced, find their best stride, are not changing conformation from race to race, and are less afraid to extend on muddy tracks. Big green horses are afraid of slipping in mud, or do slip at the break and protect themselve thereafter. Two-year-old champions are often in the smaller half of their crop.

Some of you may not know this: horses growth is patchwork. They go up two inches in the hind end and then catch up with the front end. Like teen-age boys, they just get used to their new bodies when they change again. They're built downhill in one race and level in the next. The bigger they are the harder it is to adjust to this.

I have two problems with Verrazano's race. First, I don't care if he ran an adequate last half if he walked the first easy half. That does not give him the stamina test we wanted to see; it shortened the testing part of the race to a sprint distance. So we don't know how well he would finish off a fast pace, and I, for one, like to see a horse like him go fast enough to serve as a tightener and I suspect he didn't get that out of a paceless race.

JV is probably trying to anticipate which of his prospects is going to be withdrawn on the eve of the Derby. I'll bet if the racing gods gave him a wish, he'd want to choose around 11 a.m. on Derby day.

10 Apr 2013 11:28 AM

P.S. I agree with Rusty. It's not so much not liking what we saw as not having resolved the unknowns.

10 Apr 2013 11:29 AM


It sure is the horse's fault if they don't see or hear another horse coming. This is not dressage. The horses are racing each other, not being shown by a rider who is the only one of the team who knows it is a race.

10 Apr 2013 11:45 AM

I guess my skepticism about Verrazano comes from the fact that NY form doesn't seem to be holding up lately. Not for the Derby anyway.

10 Apr 2013 12:12 PM
Lynda Hernandez

My immediate thought after watching Verazzano win and receive negative comments from many announcers was "here's Zenyatta all over again."  As mentioned in a previous comment, Zenyatta's Beyer numbers were not that impressive but she always got the job done.  Verazzano seems to have the same vibe...knowing what he needs to do to win and not expending unnecessary energy.  Goldenscents and Flashback were impressive, too.  It will all come down to the horse that can stay healthy until May 4th.

10 Apr 2013 1:41 PM

If I bet Verrazano on top in the Derby I wont expect him to be in front after the quarter or the half,he can rate which helped Pletchers only Derby winner Super Saver.SuperSaver chased a sprinter/miler in the Arkansas Derby in his last prep which helped him layoff another sprinter/miler Sidneys Candy in the Derby.

Verrazano will only be forced to be in front if he draws too far inside which will be determined by how you see the running of the 1st part of the race into the turn.

I expected Bodemeister to be out front in 2012,in 2011 I expected either of the top two from the Arkansas Derby Nero or Archarch arch to be stalking(we remember he was injured)in 2010 I knew Super Saver would stalk in 2009 ditto for Pioneer of the Nile,thats enough years for now.

10 Apr 2013 4:07 PM
Sail On

@Coldfacts, "Verrazano has not yet run his race." I stand by my statement. The true fact is that his Jock said that he didn't even see Invasion coming on! Also, I do not expect that Verrazano will run need to run his race in the Derby. I do not believe he will be tested until he sees a longer race with a smaller field and several closers to challenge him. Your opinion of my opinion is noted, as well as your dislike of Verrazano no matter what he had done.

10 Apr 2013 5:54 PM

For anyone who doubts Verrazano's potential check out the 2013 Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The race was a Grade 3 stakes for seasoned older horses.the distance was 1 mile. The final time of the race was 1:35 and change and all of the horses in that race were running all out to the finish line.----Then view Verrazano's 16 length allowance win,same distance,same track. V's final time was 1:34.8----and he did it handily,he was virtually galloping.--Mind you,it was only the second race of his career.

10 Apr 2013 6:36 PM
Pedigree Ann

"A Hercules among mortals." I can't believe that anybody thinks this matters. Big horses aren't better than medium horses by virtue of their size, but you couldn't tell it by the way people talk. Northern Dancer was little, the great Hyperion was little, Megahertz was little, Dark Mirage was little,...,

People used to geld colts who showed signs they would get that big, like Forego, before they put stallion weight onto their necks and shoulders. Forelegs can take a pounding from bulked out stallion forequarters.  

10 Apr 2013 8:04 PM
Sail On

The question remains...who can beat him and by what strategy?

10 Apr 2013 9:50 PM

Woo Hoo Pedigree Ann..you are so right about the stallions and forelegs. Thank you!

10 Apr 2013 10:00 PM

When I posted I meant to say Verrazano looks like a man amongst boys.  It came out the other way around as I posted it a 12:30 at night and was tired at that point.

But I get what Steve is saying, Verrazano has that Barbaro-like physical appearance, Zenyatta had it, Hard Spun had it, they are statuesque in appearance.  No it does not mean they are a shoe-in for a Derby win or greatness. Alex was small, Mine That Bird wasn't that big, a lot of them were on the little side too.  But he's undefeated and with his stature and size seems to have a good mental development and maturity as well and knows how to get it done.

10 Apr 2013 11:34 PM
Greg R

Right on, Steve.  Verrazano won't necessarily be my Derby pick, but I concur with what you say above.  It would seem that a horse really shouldn't want to look like Pegasus in his last Derby prep.  We could add the example of Silver Charm's turning the tables on Freehouse and Real Quiet's turning the tables on Indian Charlie, although with Verrazano, we're actually talking about a horse that squeaked out a win.  HOWEVER, what if Verrazano IS the Freehouse or Indian Charlie in these comparisons?  I think that is what Verrazano critics have been saying, in effect.  Could see both sides, I guess.

10 Apr 2013 11:45 PM
Greg R

Size and scope do seem to wow people nowadays.  They often speak admiringly of a towering physique or a long stride.  It's easy to be taken in and to suppose there is something to it.  Maybe there is, in the broad racehorse  population.  Or if you're looking for a spring-of-the-year sophomore to last ten furlongs.  Love to know if hard stats back it up.

10 Apr 2013 11:55 PM


No hard stats back it up; in fact, no stats exist. The only evidence we have for the height, weight or stride length of all but a handful of horses is hearsay from interested parties and guesstimates from pix or videos.

Stallion registers publish height figures for some horses but this is a paid advertisement with data submitted by the customer. Northern Dancer was always listed as 15.3, for example. NOT! ;>

It's interesting to look at advertised heights in stallion registers over the years. Nowadays you see 17 h, even 17.2 or 17.3 occasionally. Forty to fifty years ago that was considered too big for racing, and the advertised heights topped out at 16.3.

Size has been at a premium forever. And throughout the history of the breed one finds "Despite being by all accounts a small horse, X led the sire lists for . . ." "Not nominated for the classics as a foal because of his diminutive size . . ." "Small, but" may be listed in the top 10 phrases used by racing historians.  

Small horses have had such disproportionate influence on the breed that it's hard to understand the size lust, unless people play out suppressed ... oh, never mind, let's not go there.

Selene, top racemare and one of the best dams of sires ever, was tiny, as was her champion son Hyperion, 15.1 in training. Beyond 6 times leading sire Hyperion, her sons included Pharamond and Sickle who went to stud in the U.S. and from whom descend in tail male Native Dancer and Buckpasser.

Hmmm. One thing may have pulled in the other direction, assigned weights. I remember Charlie Hatton's yarn about a trainer who was always wringing his hands over his "Gallant little . . ." What beast of a handicapper could load 127 lbs. on a horse called that? Especially a Gallant Little Filly?

Northern Dancer was possibly smaller even than Hyperion, 15 flat in training, but no one ever breached security to get near him with a stick. It became obvious to bloodstock agents early in his stud career that Nijinsky was the exception and his best foals were the small ones.

One of Tesio's shopping secrets was buying scrawny little mares with solid pedigrees. They were invariably cheaper than their pedigree because they were small. The second dam of Nearco was one of those. Tesio also preferred small to medium stallions.

I made a long list of "small buts" in Sir Charles Leicester's 'Bloodstock Breeding,' 'Sire Lines' and a couple of other books, but I'm not going to try to find it; it's past my bedtime.

Top of head: Hampton, 15.2; One Hour?; Mahmoud, under 15.3; Tom Rolfe, 15.2; Ben Brush and sons Broomstick and Sweep; Hall-of-Famer Silverbulletday and her daughters, rapidly establishing a dynasty; many in the Golden Trail family; many of the stallions which the U.S. has sold abroad and mourned the loss of: Brian's Time, I'll Have Another, Sunday Silence, others.

Ahh, Pedigree Ann, yes, Dark Mirage, how could I forget?

11 Apr 2013 4:23 AM

Coming back to 2013, when a big, long-striding horse is fully extended he is not nimble, and if he has to take up, it takes him a long time to reestablish momentum.

Something to consider in a 20-horse field.

11 Apr 2013 4:25 AM

BIGTEX, you couldn't possibly mean this: "I'm pretty sure Animal Kingdom's sire was winless until 2011."

What were you trying to say?

11 Apr 2013 4:30 AM
Forbidden Apple

This is a great article to stir up some debate. But does anyone really want this horse at 3-1? The love that Pletcher horses get at the windows and in press is huge. Add on that he is undefeated and here you have the morning line favorite in a 20 horse field. I see Verrazano sucking wind down the stretch, you can have him as the chalk.

Sail On,

Keep in mind that the prep season is not yet over. This weekend should force out a few more contenders. For me I can easily see Itsmyluckyday getting back to top form and stalking the speed horses into the ground and pulling away from the field. I can also see Orb grinding it out down the stretch under the strong urging of Rosario. And Revolutionary can win from any position. Who are the great closers that everyone keeps talking about?

Govenor Charlie was mentioned as the fastest horse at 1 1/8 miles. This is true on a synthetic surface. Let me know when he runs fast on dirt against Grade I competition.

Lexington Bloodstock,

Do you know something that the rest of us do not know regarding Itsmyluckyday? I'm only asking because his last race is hard for me to accept. I still have him #1 on my Derby Dozen list and think he is sitting on a big race. I wish someone would do an interview with Plesa. Horses usually don't go from killers to claimers in one race. At 15-1 or better I'll take my chances on this fine animal.

11 Apr 2013 4:39 AM

Steve!   Thanks so much for this article!   I thought I was the only one out here who thinks VERRAZANO is not getting the respect he deserves.   I've had him and ORB in my sights for awhile now.   Just because he didn't come "roaring" home in the Wood doesn't mean this horse isn't ready....getting your horse to the PEAK just in time for the Derby is the game here....not impressing the railbirds with your "prep" races.    All any horse has to do at this point is stay sound and win enough to amass the points to make it INTO The Derby.  It's the trainer's job to see they are READY for the Derby.....then it's up to the horse.    I'd rather see a horse who's been a little "battle" tested and maybe had a "tought" race or 2 and proven he can take it BEFORE he gets in the gate at Churchill Downs.    I'll keep this one in my list......but like some others here, I sure would like to see Shug get this one with OTB....HE deserves it and the Janney family deserves it for their years of work and dedication to this sport.   Not to mention a measure of "Karmic payback" for losing the brilliant RUFFIAN too soon!

11 Apr 2013 9:38 AM
Abigail Anderson

Steve: Great topic for discussion & I enjoyed reading all of the previous comments. Although I still mourn the loss of Hear The Ghost and am rooting for Shug, I've liked Verrazano from the start. I enjoyed this reminder about other Derby winners who weren't all that impressive in pre-Derby races, but am always annoyed by the impatience of fans and journalists alike. These colts are babies and they've still got lots to learn. As well, there's got to be a strategy to bringing them along to Derby day and I'm thinking slow fractions wouldn't have bothered anyone in Verrazano's camp. As the Montreal Canadiens' coach says: "It's one thing to be fit, but it's another to be game ready." And all these Derby babies are getting "game ready" which doesn't necessarily mean they'll be brilliant -- or get the chance to be brilliant -- in every pre-Derby prep.

11 Apr 2013 10:09 AM

Forbidden Apple,

"Horses usually don't go from killers to claimers in one race."

Interesting assessment above.

Transparent went from a claimer's  effort in the Gotham to a killer in his next start and you regarded him as part donkey.

I would love to own a part donkey that can run a mile in 1:35 in any company.

You owe the fans of the colt an apology.

11 Apr 2013 10:38 AM
Rusty Weisner

Forbidden Apple,

Govenor Charlie's never run on synthetic.  Sunland is dirt.

11 Apr 2013 10:41 AM


“I did like his Wood and he is undefeated and he does look like a boy amongst men”

What exactly is there to, like about pedestrian fractions in a $1M G1 race?

What advantage does an undefeated horse has heading into the Derby?  

Would a January foal with a big frame tower over April or May foals?

To assist you in answering the above questions, cast you mind back to 2012. There was an undefeated January colt that looked like a man amongst boys who also won the Wood in a slow time.

This colt won a G2 race as a 2YO. He possessed the same credentials as Verrazano and therefore should have overpowered the opposition in the 2012 Derby.

The undefeated January colt that looked like a man amongst boys  was Gemologist and he finished 18th in the Derby.

11 Apr 2013 11:10 AM

I tend to throw out all of the rules on derby day. It's not a mere a horse race, but rather an event that seems to favor those who are not favorites. I get a giggle from fans who think they can actually predict the outcome of the derby with absolute certainty.

11 Apr 2013 12:29 PM


Have you watched the head-ons? It would cost you less than a buck.

Revolutionary was not interfered with in the L.A. Derby; that is true. That in no way refutes the statement that most of his problems at the gate have been other horses breaking sideways and crashing into him or following in front of him.

There are two possibilities. First, not being a stupid horse, he has finally decided, as Secretariat did, that it's a good strategy to case the action from behind checking for ambushes, before circling the field. Second, his connections decided that they had the best horse, so the most important thing was to make absolutely sure that he didn't suffer another attack at the gate.

If one wished to make sure he would break true in the Derby, one would do what they did: Get him out of the gate safely then goose him at once so you're not teaching him to break slow.

11 Apr 2013 12:43 PM

Castellano has chosen to ride Normandy Invasion over Revolutionary so now Pletcher has to find a jock for R-----I'd suggest contacting Calvin Bo-rail.

11 Apr 2013 2:20 PM
Splits of 12

I usually reserve the right to make any Derby predictions until all the prep races have come to a completion. But my Derby horse will be racing on Saturday for a purse of $1,000,000 in the G1 Arkansas Derby. His name is, well, let's get back to that later. He is trained by a HOF, and will now be ridden by a HOF jockey. He is by a classic champion sire, who has produced multiple BC champions. His broodmare sire, sired a two-time B2B BC Classic champion! If that hasn't given it away then I guess I'll just have to give you his name now. Oxbow, and yes he's trained by D.Wayne Lukas, reunited with big-money rider Gary Stevens. His sire, the great Awesome Again, followed by a broodmare sire Cee's Tizzy who produced 2-time BC,  Classic winner in consecutive years, the unbreakable, Tiznow. With all that blood running through Oxbow's flesh, he is destined for greatness. What I like best about Oxbow, is that he is a horse, who brings his game every time he steps onto the track. He's a lunch pale type of horse with a lot of natural speed. He clocks in his hours in the morning and is all business in the afternoon. He never steps down from a fight. I also like the fact that he has had to overcome some adversity in his last two race. He's had to race wide in his last two trips and is still in the mix when they get to the firing line. This colt has had a nice foundation built into him and it reminds me of the times when trainers would give horses four prep races before sending them to the Derby. What a comeback story this would be for horseracing if this colt becomes the little engine who could.  

11 Apr 2013 5:13 PM

Steve, you're the best, man.

Thanks for putting things back in perspective.

11 Apr 2013 7:51 PM


I was never a Gemologist fan.  I don't see where Verrazano looks like him at all.  I never much followed Gemologist, saw him for the first time in the Haskell with Steve and we both commented how good he looked but I was never on the Gemologist bandwagon.

In answer to your 3 questions:

1.  Where is it written in stone that a colt must set blazing fractions in a Derby prep?   Goldencents was on the "freeway" surface so it is somewhat different.  Goldencents may not be as speedy on the Churchill dirt.  I think Aqueduct is a tough track and I think Verrazano did just fine.  He did what he had to do and I don't think he has fully exerted himself as yet.

2.  I think an undefeated colt has a mental advantage.  He knows what winning is and knows what is expected of him an this one seems to have the maturity of body in sync with the mental development.  I think Verrazano is smart and knows where the finish line is and that along with his physical prowess makes him more dangerous.

He's got that physical impressive look that Barbaro had, Zenyatta has, Hard Spun has, etc.  Will it get a Derby won?  Who the heck knows but Verrazano is in my top 5.

3.  Would a Jan. born colt with a big frame tower over April and May born colts?  Probably, he's had a few more months of development on them.

Barbaro was undefeated, looked like a man amongst boys, and finished 1st in the Derby.  I never once compared Gemologist to Barbaro but I am comparing Verrazano to Barbaro.

11 Apr 2013 8:50 PM

If Verrazano is a bigger colt who runs slower times than the smaller faster horses.I do not think his size will get him to the wire 1st.I guess he can improve and become the first solid classic contender dirt horse for More Than Ready.I do like Pletcher's Revolutionaty who won the LA Derby and appeared to dig in and fight to win.But I am going with the West Coast speed.

11 Apr 2013 9:25 PM
Steel Dragon

Bombay Duck had the ultimate excuse in the Derby. Some infield jackass hit him with a beer can. I think that might've led to the fencing in of the drunken maniacs.  

Anyway, great analysis, Steve but I can't get past the concept of luck still being the biggest factor in the era of bloated Derby fields.

11 Apr 2013 9:39 PM
Paula Higgins

Verrazano is still my number 1. There is absolutely no reason to change that. As another poster said, it all comes down to which horses are healthy at Derby time. Nice posting Steve.

11 Apr 2013 10:46 PM
Rusty Weisner


When you say

"he has finally decided, as Secretariat did, that it's a good strategy to case the action from behind checking for ambushes, before circling the field."

you're making my argument for me.

12 Apr 2013 10:15 AM
Forbidden Apple


I only pay attention to Sunland Park one day out of the year. And the big race always falls on a holiday weekend and betting is not allowed in NY. I thought Sunland had a synthetic surface, my mistake.


I believe you are one of few fans of Transparent. So I can apologize to you if your feelings are hurt. But I think you are the one who should be apologizing, to his trainer. You have consistently knocked his trainer this winter for one reason or another.

12 Apr 2013 11:10 AM

I mentioned this before, Gemologist looked good winning the Wood last year.  Alpha came up on him and he repelled his challenge, and was actually pulling away at the wire.   Verrazano is the deserving favorite but he is one of many that I will let beat me in the Derby.

12 Apr 2013 11:40 AM

Forbidden Apple,

The poor placements of his horses and their inconsistencies is not synonymous with a trainer that is managing his horses and stable effectively.  

If I were in the Darley or Godolphin Organization I would vote for him to be replaced.

12 Apr 2013 5:24 PM
Old Timer

great article Steve. I think that there are many folks who have doubts about Verrazzano's distance capability (including myself). However the horse has done absolutely nothing wrong to date. Like Rodney Dangerfield, he just seems to get no respect.  It will be interesting to see what the odds are come Derby day.

The Wood is as good as any prep when it comes to producing Derby winners (Monarchos; Funny Cide; Fusaichi Pegasus and many more)

I also agree that Bellamy Road was way overhyped. Are you listening Andy Beyer? :-)

12 Apr 2013 8:56 PM
Little Bill


You are a useful contributor to these blogs and I thank you for that. How can anyone take seriously "If I were in the Darley or Godolphin organization". Unless you have established some creds that I am unaware of, that is border line lunacy.

A: Your not.

B: Who cares.

12 Apr 2013 9:20 PM
Greg R

Cassandra.Says:  Interesting!  I think the popular notion comes from the fact that every once in awhile we have an exceptionally large horse that runs as impressively as he/she looks and those are the ones that many recall, eg., Point Given, Curlin, Zenyatta, Winning Colors, Secretariat.  Express Tour and Congaree, contemporaries of each other, were 17 hands and naturally very speedy.  But then you have not-so-big Xtra Heat and many you named.

Incidentally, there IS an outfit that measures and analyzes stride lengths professionally.  They identified Gio Ponti, before anyone heard of him, as having an unusually long stride.  Can't think of firm's name; someone will know.

13 Apr 2013 12:05 AM
jean thomas

what's with the videos on  the bloodhorse website i try too play the bluegrass stakes preveiw and that handicapping show and when i click-on it i get redirected to another ad another ad ect...  am i the only one or what? anyway i'll pick UNDRAFTED in the bluegrass stakes and OXbow in ark derby      

13 Apr 2013 2:37 AM
Rusty Weisner

Old Timer,

Andy Beyer gets no respect.  He would be the first to tell you that a Beyer number in a four-horse field counts for less than elsewhere.

Bellamy Road didn't run disgracefully.  He was 7th after being near the hot pace that produced Giacomo.

Bellamy Road is one of three favorites I've bet in Derbies past, along with Street Sense and Big Brown.  He provided me with an hour of exquisite anticipation and 6f of great excitement because I had the first three legs of the Pick4 there and he would have paid $10,000 (I don't want to look up what Giacomo paid; I actually sat next to a lunatic of a woman at the simulcast joint who had the trifecta.  But I digress).  Believe me, I learned from betting him.

I don't think it's fair to compare Verrazano to Bellamy Road; he has won graded stakes in two straight large fields.  And anyway, sometimes those flashy horses out of four-horse fields go on to become, say, Bernardini.

13 Apr 2013 9:56 AM

Fugue for Tinhorns,

The fact that I specified that if I were in the Darley or Godolphin organization, suggests that I am well aware I am not. There was no need for you reiterate same unless my poor English failed to communicate this cold fact.

These forums provide opportunities for contributors to post opinions. We are all at liberty to view these opinions as we see fit. I do not consider my opinion baseless and have record to support same.

Instead of needlessly highlighting the obvious, you could have provided information in support of the trainer's program

I happen to be a fan of the Boys In Blue and have seen them make very bad decisions with purchases and trainers.

There are many trainers that I have given credit as I have been very impressed with their programs.

There are others whose programs I find unreliable and lacking in consistency. Mr. McLaughlin program happens to be one of them.

13 Apr 2013 10:47 AM

I think Verrazano just may be a freak...a phenomenon toying with the opposition.  I don't doubt his ability at all.  

However, the same can be said of Orb and Revolutionary.  

They're the top 3 to me.

13 Apr 2013 11:29 AM

Coldfacts on the topic of Darley stable management,what do you think of Eoin Hartys management skills of HIS darley trainees(of course you know Footbridge is one of them)

13 Apr 2013 1:24 PM
Little Bill

Coldfacts, well said. I don't see  Mclaughlin as  much a problem as the more money than God organization. Did Bin Suroor have better luck? They invest and want returns, now. I think as fans we would all be pleased if they all took more time.

13 Apr 2013 3:46 PM
Pedigree Ann

"Coming back to 2013, when a big, long-striding horse is fully extended he is not nimble, and if he has to take up, it takes him a long time to reestablish momentum."

Cass, I always have contended that the reason that Sunday Silence always beat Easy Goer on one-mile tracks but couldn't beat him at Belmont was that EG was one of those big, long-striding types. On a mile oval, he had to shorten stride just a bit to keep his balance on the turns then try to get his stride going again. At Belmont, no problem, he could keep striding out on the wide turns.

(I was a big Sunday Silence fan. I like them medium in size and handy. And black. The Walter Farley influence.)

13 Apr 2013 4:03 PM
Tiara Terces

Great observations.  Although Verrazano's sire could only get fourth, apparently he has had some good distance horses in Australia.  The dam sire is a good distance horse who gave Tiznow a great challenge on a strange surface and traveling the opposite way around. Union Rags was also an outstanding specimen but did not come through. Pletcher has had only one Derby winner  and he was favored by a wet track and Mr. Borail as the jockey. Orb is by Malibu Moon, a son of Unbridled who was a full brother to Cahill Road. On paper Oxbow looks great but what happened in the Arkansas Derby?  Which ones would be most likely to benefit by an off track if Derby Day is wet? So many questions.  Who knows the answers?  Gemologist may have looked good standing but when running he was quite paddle footed.  The workout reports will give us some better insight but we'll have to wait for Derby Week for that.  

13 Apr 2013 10:14 PM

He was not impressive. After a half in just under 50, NO ONE should have made up ground on a real great colt. And Normandy Invasion did just that. I will be surprised if Verrazano wins at Churchill. Orb should be the favorite.

14 Apr 2013 12:15 AM

For shame, RUSTY!

A sleazy trick, leaving critical words out of a quote. Almost like leaving "not" out.

I did not "make your case for you" I acknowledged it as one possibility, playing fair. Try it.

First, you have not looked at the head-ons, I can tell. Anyone who does develops great respect for this horse. He was physically mauled in his first start, and his neighbor broke outward into his path and went to his knees there in his second start. In his third, he broke a little cautiously, rushed into contention and hung, but nothing hit him. In his fourth, he broke like an arrow, stalked from the outside, beat a stakes horse 8 1/2 lengths and just a maiden, in third, by 20 lengths, one second off an Aqueduct record on a drying out 'good' track.

So we have a horse with a history of bouncing back psychologically given one clean race. Maybe that was only once and now he's ruined, but I think it's likely that if he was going to wind up like a gun shy pup, the first and second races would be most likely to break his nerve. And he's never been off the board even when the victim of a wipeout.

I'm an old lady in a wheelchair now, and have been many things with horses, but first I look at them as a rider.

"I'd love to ride that horse."

"No, you wouldn't dear. Eat your gruel."

But like an old dog by the fire chasing rabbits in its dreams, I still ride in my sleep.

He's the one I'd love to ride. A very sound nervous system. He has none of the things one might dread inbreeding to Ribot through Hoist the Flag and all you might hope for.

14 Apr 2013 2:22 AM


Yes, I know them. But they don't do it for free and how many do they do? Nor are they public information after they've done them.

People I've known well doing stride analysis found no correlations between length and a few other parameters and racing success. They didn't publicize that fact and continued collecting fees from 2s-in-training buyers and others wanting to know.

"So-and-so closing with giant strides" says the announcer; we've all heard it often.

Have you ever thought, "Gee, didn't look that giant to me" and counted strides to the wire by so-and-so compared to another horse in the picture in your video?

It's just a cliche.

Thoroughbreds come in various sizes and shapes, and also ways of going. No one of these has a monopoly on speed and stamina.

14 Apr 2013 2:42 AM

If anybody doesn't know from whence Fugue for Tinhorns took his name, google it.

14 Apr 2013 3:02 AM

When it's all assembled like this, it would almost appear that a lot of horses have been stiffs in their final prep.

"I leave a leetle juice in ze lemon." [Horatio Luro]

14 Apr 2013 3:13 AM



Revolutionary and Calvin Borel . . . if Revolutionary does hesitate at the break, they'll rewrite the textbook on broken field running!

14 Apr 2013 3:38 AM

There's not much speed in this Derby-----I don't see any horse going in 10 and change for the first six furlongs in Derby.Goldencents has speed but his connections would be foolish to send him on a suicide mission.I see the early fractions going in something like 23 and change,46 and change and 1:11 and change---Verrazano will be right on the pace this time and I don't see anybody running him down in the stretch---Pletcher will have him geared up bigtime on Derby Day and Revolutionary should take the place spot. It's Pletcher's Derby.

14 Apr 2013 11:30 AM
Rusty Weisner


I don't understand.  I was just making the point that if he needs to circle the field after dropping back, that might be too much of a disadvantage to win the race.  Sorry if I misinterpreted something.

I actually like the idea playing Revolutionary more after Java's War winning.  These are the two who should be coming with a rush at the end and I think the possibility of long odds on Java's War are gone.  I like Palace Malice.  Great effort on an unfamiliar surface that favored a horse like Java's War.

14 Apr 2013 11:42 AM
Fran Loszynski

Revolutionary reminds me of War Admiral. When you see him for the first time you just go Whoa! Awesome horses like this are killers for the finish line. Their stature keeps them from eyeing their competition because in their heart, there is none. Racehorses become aware of a female jockey I believe they protect them. Revolutionary needs Rosie because he is going to pay attention to the other 19 horses and she'll see to that

14 Apr 2013 11:45 AM
Forbidden Apple

Cold Opinions,

I think it's time we stopped hearing about your maiden winner named Footbridge. Or maybe you think Harty did his job well, keep up the hard work.

14 Apr 2013 12:43 PM

If Verrazano suddenly decides to run his race he may be in the mix,But he needs to get faster before May 4th,Sunland is on dirt and in Govenor Charlie gets a good trip and a similar time for 1 1/8 miles again and a average last 1/8th that may be the winning time

14 Apr 2013 1:47 PM
Sail On

Alex's big fan makes good points. I especially agree that winning goes a long way. Some horses have serious trouble passing and taking the lead.

The Bluegrass and Arkansas show no challengers there, so there are few horses in the Derby that can give Verrazano contest. Don't think we shall see him all out until Belmont.

15 Apr 2013 12:05 AM

Anyone want to try their odds making abilty?.I'll just estimate what I think the morning line odds will be on a few of the top contenders.--------Verrazano 5/2--Orb 7/2-- Goldencents 6/1---Revolutionary 6-1----Normandy Invasion 8-1--Vyjack 10-1--and Java Gold-10-1.

15 Apr 2013 10:09 AM

Forbidden Apple,

And your point is?

Palace Malice and Normandy Invasion are maiden winners as well. Both have finished unplaced in graded races on surfaces on which they are proven.

One bad race does not a bad maiden winner make.

Itmylucjday was unplaced in the Delta Jackpot. He rebounded from that bad performance. To what did you attribute his poor performance?

Footbridge tried a new surface and did not fire. He is not the first horse with a dirt to synthetic  effort that was poor. Will Rydilluc contest more synthetic races?

Daylan Thomas was shipped to NY to contest the Jockey Club Gold Cup and finished last beaten 20L.

Subsequently to his dismal dirt effort he won the Arc on his preferred surface.

You are not the contributor I expect to engage in this type of points scoring policy as you should be well aware that history will make you look silly.

15 Apr 2013 10:48 AM
Pedigree Ann

Cassandra - 'The Fugue for Tinhorns' is the opening number of the Broadway show 'Guys and Dolls.' It is sung by Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Rusty Charlie, and Benny Southstreet. Nicely-Nicely is perusing the Morning Telegraph (a defunct racing paper) and begins -

"I got the horse right here,

The name is Paul Revere,

And here's a that guy that says

that the weather's clear.

Can do, can do, this guy says the

horse can do."

15 Apr 2013 10:53 AM


I do not favor Mr. Eoin Hartys' program either.

As fans, we just have to live with the things we cannot change.

15 Apr 2013 10:55 AM

Tiara Terces

You are funny!

"Gemologist may have looked good standing but when running he was quite paddle footed."

I made a similar observation regarding Gemologist. I predicted he would have a very short racing career and had no chance of winning the Derby with that type of galloping action.

My description was not paddle foot but instead a flopping foot. I am not sure the adjective selected was appropriate.

15 Apr 2013 11:04 AM

I'm still sticking with Verrazano,  with Orb as my second favorite to win the Derby.

15 Apr 2013 12:45 PM
Little Bill

I first heard the tune as the opening song to the awesome "Let it Ride" flick.

I'll set up with a laptop at the local pub on big race days and have a tab open to it. Play a piece of it before races. My friends have it down loaded as my ringtone. They love hearing it on Saturdays as they know it's game on.

15 Apr 2013 5:04 PM

I havent read many comments but will go back & do so. I have a Derby horse I really like, MYLUTE. How can you/anyone love REVOLUTIONARY and not like this horse alot? Just had excellent w/out, will be 2nd time w/ blinkers off, will be multi x the price of horse he lost to by a neck and had as tough a trip or worse. Enough races and well travelled, so a good bottom. This might be a major play for me. Prep underneath horse somewhat ignored like a # of them who have gone on and won. I dont like VERRAZANO at all, fin. too slow in Wood. nothing impressive for low odds horse. Thks.....

16 Apr 2013 2:18 PM

Gentleman... Lets sprinkle a little math and logic on top of your Rubik's cube problem. 1... That's how many times I've seen Johnny V go to the whip. Now here comes my logic...This horse has only stepped up in class. All the horses that have come close to losing to him are regarded as great. Does anyone watch replays? His cruising speed is superior to any other I've seen on the trail. It will take a terrible break out of the gate and a wall 8 wide in home stretch to stop this monster from winning those roses.

16 Apr 2013 7:14 PM


Who is goldencents?

21 Apr 2013 7:58 AM

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