Todd Pletcher added to his arsenal of classic candidates when Verrazano was an eye-catching winner at Gulfstream Park on Tuesday.
Verrazano is a son of Vinery champion More Than Ready and he cruised to an 7 length victory over 1200 metres. “He’s been impressing us in the mornings and we’ve were looking forward to this afternoon,” Pletcher said. “He’s a real big colt who had some minor baby issues and we just wanted to wait a little later to get him started.”
Verrazano (3c More Than Ready – Enchanted Rock by Giant’s Causeway) was a class above his rivals in what appeared to be a loaded maiden field. He is a younger half-brother to last year’s G2 Risen Star Stakes winner El Padrino (Pulpit).
“They have lot of similar characteristics – their personalities, their size, and their demeanour,” Pletcher explained. “El Padrino is a really good horse, and this horse is even more impressive in the mornings.”
Verrazano was the subject of heavy support before his debut and he stalked the early pace before drawing off at will under jockey John Velazquez. “I will play it by ear,” Pletcher said when asked about classic plans for the colt. “We will just ease our way along with him.”
Pletcher’s band of Kentucky Derby prospects already includes Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby, Remsen Stakes winner Overanalyze and CashCall Futurity winner Violence.
The Hall of Fame trainer prepared More Than Ready during a career highlighted by victories in the G1 King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga and the G2 Sanford Stakes and Tremont Stakes.
More Than Ready has 26 yearlings catalogued for the Gold Coast Magic Millions that commences next Wednesday, January 9. The largest drafts are from Baramul Stud (12) and Vinery (7).