Verrazano went into Kentucky Derby week as an early favorite, but he exited as a mere also ran, finishing 14th in the field of 20; his undefeated record of four-for-four forgotten. However, the More Than Ready colt gained some redemption when he returned in mid-June to win the Grade 2 Pegasus by 9 ¼ lengths. The sloppy track and crowded field that Verrazano faced in the Kentucky Derby were unkind, but he shouldn’t face either problem on Sunday. He's been installed as the morning-line favorite at odds of 9-5.
Verrazano’s nemesis in the first part of the year also returns from a disappointing Kentucky Derby finish. Rudy Rodriguez’s Vyjack finished 18th, beaten 52 lengths in the Kentucky Derby. He returned in the Belmont and finished 8th, 10 lengths behind winner Palace Malice. Rodriguez entered Vyjack in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on Saturday, but opted to try him in the Haskell when he drew post 10. Although, the Haskell draw put him in post one, the buzz is that he will run in the Sunday stakes. Vyjack would have to get back to the form he showed in early March to be competitive with this group, but two recent bullet works show that may be a possibility.
Dallas Stewart’s Golden Soul surprised the bettors to close sharply and finish just 2 ½ lengths behind Orb in the Kentucky Derby. His ninth place finish in the Belmont Stakes was disappointing for this grandson of the greats Sadler’s Wells and Mr. Prospector. He’d be a surprise to win the Haskell, but the nearly two months rest since the Belmont should be to his liking and reports from Stewart's barn confirm the horse is ready.
The complete field, from the rail out, is Vyjack, Pick of the Litter, Golden Soul, Power Broker, Oxbow, Micromanage, and Verrazano.
The race is the 13thon Sunday’s Monmouth Park card with a scheduled post time of 6:18 EST. It can be seen on HRTV and TVG.
Photo: Courtesy PreaknessStakes.com/Jim McCue/MJC
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