Verrazano emphatically proved that
he’s back in the 3-year-old championship picture as he rolled to a decisive
victory in the 46th running of the $1 million William Hill Haskell
Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park on Sunday.
With a crowd of 36,284 on hand
roaring in approval, 11-10 favorite Verrazano left the others gasping far behind
through the stretch as he cruised to win by 9 ¾ lengths over Power Broker, the
largest winning margin in the history of the Haskell.
Micromanage, six lengths farther back, won the
scramble for third at the wire, a nose before Oxbow. Pick of the Litter, Vyjack
and Golden Soul completed the order of finish in the field of seven.
Verrazano, owned by the partnership
of Let’s Go Stable, Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith, gave
trainer Todd Pletcher his third Haskell score and jockey John Velazquez his
second with the romping score and paid $4.20, $3.20 and $2.10 across the board.
Power Broker, who was attempting to
get trainer Bob Baffert his seventh Haskell win, paid $4.80 and $3.60 and
completed the $22 exacta. Micromanage, also trained by Pletcher, paid $4 to show.
Verrazano, a bay colt by More Than
Ready – Enchanted Rock, by Giant’s Causeway,
was winning his sixth race in seven lifetime starts. The only blemish on his
record was a disappointing effort in the Kentucky Derby, when he ran 14th
behind Orb. The winner’s share of $600,000 pushed his lifetime bankroll of
The colt signaled his return to
winning ways at Monmouth on June 16 with a romping nine and a quarter-length
score in the Pegasus Stakes, and then put an exclamation point on his current
form with today’s exhibition of sheer speed and ability.
“He made a huge statement today,”
Pletcher said. “This was one of the most impressive – if not the most
impressive – races by any 3-year-old this year. I would say this was his most
impressive race for a horse that’s near perfect minus the sloppy race in the
“You couldn’t have drawn it up any
better,” Pletcher said. “Power Broker came to his hip and Johnny (Velazquez)
asked him to go and he immediately took over the race.”
Pletcher, who won back-to-back
runnings of the Haskell with Bluegrass Cat (2006, Velazquez up and the previous
biggest winner by 7 legnths) and Any Given Saturday (2007), said Verrazano will
stay on the path that could carry him to an Eclipse Award despite the fact he did
not win one of the Triple Crown events.
“The plan all along was to run in
the Haskell, and if he showed he could handle distances of a mile and an eighth
plus, the Travers (August 24 at Saratoga)
would be a logical next spot,” Pletcher said. “The way he finished today over a
track that’s been deep and demanding all week with his ears pricked at the wire
showed he handled it pretty well.”
Velazquez said he encountered no
problems winning the Haskell.
“We had the perfect trip,” the
rider said. “He was incredible today. When I asked him, he was right there. He
was in the perfect spot and Gary Stevens’ horse (Oxbow) was moving easily, so I
moved him out to the middle of the track so no one could keep me pinned in.
“It looked like Oxbow was going a
little slow on the lead, so I went up to put a little pressure on him. Power
Broker moved at us a little, and my horse just took off.”
Bob Baffert, who watched the race
from his base in California,
was pleased with the ffort of Power Broker.
“He ran a good race,” Baffert said.
“I think he thinks he won. I don’t know if he ever saw Verrazano go by. We were
a little overmatched today. He’s still a very immature horse, and he got a lot
out of the race.”
As expected, Preakness Stakes
winner Oxbow charged to the early lead with Vyjack and Pick of the Litter
chasing around the clubhouse turn. Verrazano, on the outside, moved up to the
leaders after a half-mile in :48 1/5. He powered up after the lead on the far
turn, after six furlongs in 1:12 2/5, and then asserted himself through the
He passed the one mile mark in 1:37
4/5 and then just rolled to the wire with no competition in sight.
Power Broker, who was off to a slow
start, moved into position on the backstretch and got close to Verrazano at the
top of the stretch, then fell adrift and proved clearly second best through the
Live racing continues at Monmouth Park on Friday, Aug. 2 – gates open
11:30 a.m., first post 12:50 p.m. The
2013 racing meet runs through Sunday, Oct. 6.