Family and Connections: Sire - More Than Ready, Dam - Enchanted Rock; trained by Todd Pletcher; rider John Velazquez; owner Let’s Go Stables with Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith.
Pros: With his first start Jan. 1, Verrazano is undefeated in four career starts. He’s won the G2 Tampa Bay Derby and the G1 Wood Memorial. Brisnet has rated him with triple-digit speed figures in his last three starts. Jockey John Velazquez, also the regular rider for Orb, chose to stay with Verrazano in the Kentucky Derby.
Cons: He has a front-running style, but likes to wait around on his competition. Although he won his first two races by a combined 24 lengths, in his last two, among stiffer competition, he won the Tampa Bay Derby by only three lengths and the Wood Memorial by a mere ¾ lengths. No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Kentucky Derby and not raced as a two-year-old.
Fun Fact: Verrazano is named for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn in New York City. The owners, Let’s Go Stable, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, struggled to find a suitable name for the horse and finally settled on Verrazano when Let’s Go Stable’s Bryan Sullivan suggested it one day after traveling across the bridge, a trek he makes routinely.
Analysis: Verrazano could be the one to break the not-having-raced-as-a-two-year-old rule. He is fast and will likely be on the lead and controlling the pace. It’s not often we see a wire-to-wire winner in the Derby, but we were close with Bodemeister last year. I’d expect Verrazano to run a similar race. The only concern is whether jockey John Velazquez, who's been out nearly a month due to an injury and expected to return to racing May 1, will be fit enough to compete at his top form Derby Day.