Unbeaten Verrazano wins Wood
The Associated Press,
Verrazano crossed his final bridge on the road to the Kentucky Derby with a narrow victory in the $1 million Wood Memorial that likely sends the colt to Churchill Downs as the horse to beat on the first Saturday in May.
Sweeping into the lead around the far turn, Verrazano held off the challenges of Vyjack and Normandy Invasion and improved his record to 4-0. The 3-year-old, trained by Todd Pletcher, won by three-quarters of a length over Normandy Invasion, who nipped Vyjack for second and likely punched his ticket to the Derby.
Ridden by John Velazquez, 4-5 favorite Verrazano raced comfortably behind early pacesetter Chrisandthecapper before taking charge on the turn.
In the stretch, Verrazano first turned back Vyjack's bid, then held off Normandy Invasion. Verrazano, who won his first three races by a combined 27 lengths, covered the 11-i miles in 1:50.27 in the toughest race of his so-far brilliant career.
The Wood was a final prep before the Derby on May 4, and Pletcher got exactly what he wanted out of his talented colt, a son of More Than Ready.
Verrazano returned $3.60, $2.70 and $2.20. Normandy Invasion, ridden by Javier Castellano, paid $3.60 and $2.60 and Vyjack, the second-favorite at 3-1, returned $2.50 to show.
The 20-horse field for the Derby will be determined this year by qualifying points.
Goldencents takes Santa Anita: Goldencents won the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on Saturday over even-money favorite Flashback, with Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino among the colt's co-owners.
Ridden by Kevin Krigger, Goldencents ran 11-i miles in 1:48.76 on Saturday. He paid $15, $5.40 and $3.40 at 6-1 odds.
Flashback returned $3 and $2.20. Super Ninety Nine, who took the early lead, paid $3.40 to show.n