Derby prospect Verrazano ‘as impressive as you’ll see one run’

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Verrazano stamped himself as an exciting prospect for this year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) with a spectacular 16 ¼ -length victory in Saturday’s fifth race at Gulfstream Park.

The 3-year-old son of More Than Ready was never in need of urging from jockey John Velazquez during the one-mile optional claiming allowance while pressing pacesetter Gunderman along the backstretch and far turn before handily drawing away to his second victory in as many starts.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Verrazano debuted at Gulfstream with a 7 ¾ -length victory on Jan. 1.

“That was about as impressive as you’ll see one run. He’s been training really, really well, so we were anticipating a good race and hoping for a good race. You’re going from one out at 6 ½ furlongs and stretching out against some horses with more experience and some stakes form,” Pletcher said. “We were encouraged going into it and even more so coming out.”

Verrazano, the 1-5 favorite owned by Let’s Go Stable, ran the mile in 1:34.80. Eton Blue finished a distant second under Joe Bravo, a neck ahead of Gunderman and Patrick Husbands.

Pletcher is undecided where Verrazano will make his next start.

“Obviously, he’s earned a right to step up into a big one. We’ve just got to figure out the timing of it,” Pletcher said. “We’re a little close to the Fountain of Youth (Feb. 23 at Gulfstream), so it probably won’t be there. We’re just going to have to figure it out.”

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