Sunday, April 7, 2013

Weekend Recap: Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Oaks, Santa Anita Derby

Here's a brief weekend recap. The Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby highlighted the weekend.

Verrazano, who I have been following since his debut on New Year's Day, was the co-favorite with Gotham Stakes (Gr. III) winner Vyjack in Saturday's Wood Memorial Stakes (Gr. I). This race was to be Verrazano's first real test since winning the Tampa Bay Derby (Gr. II) on March 9.

After his rank behavior over the first turn of the Tampa Bay Derby, I was wondering if we would see more of the same on Saturday. Actually, quite the opposite--in fact, Verrazano almost seemed half-asleep at times, despite stalking the pace then taking the lead before the final turn. His ears were up and he seemed to be looking around at certain points, but compared to the Tampa Bay Derby, he almost appeared sluggish. Nevertheless, he had enough in the tank to easily win the Wood Memorial with nothing more than a hand ride and three hits with the stick. You can watch the race here.

I later read trainer Todd Pletcher's comments about Verrazano having a tendency to "idle a little bit and wait on company down the lane" which will explain his behavior in the race. You can read the Blood-Horse article on the race here. The colt still being somewhat green isn't the best way to go into the Kentucky Derby, but Verrazano's connections have no choice--Churchill Downs is the next stop for the colt.

Santa Anita Park had two excellent races on the card for Saturday--the Santa Anita Oaks (Gr. I) and Santa Anita Derby (Gr. I). The Oaks was won easily by the champion 2-year-old filly, Beholder. She will possibly meet Dreaming of Julia (who earned a 114 Beyer in the Gulfstream Oaks (Gr. I) last weekend), Midnight Lucky, Flashy Gray, Princess of Sylmar, and other good fillies in the Kentucky Oaks (Gr. I) at Churchill Downs next. It is shaping up to be a top-notch field.

The Santa Anita Derby was won by Goldencents, who lost the San Felipe Stakes (Gr. II) March 9 after locking horns with Flashback in the early stages of the race. This time, he relaxed nicely and was able to win without being pressured. Like Verrazano, the Kentucky Derby is his next stop.

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