G1 Winner Verrazano Moves to O’Brien Stable, Set for European Campaign

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Verrazano, seen winning the 2013 Haskell, will make his European debut in the JLT Lockinge Stakes on Saturday Verrazano, seen winning the 2013 Haskell, will make his European debut in the JLT Lockinge Stakes on Saturday

Verrazano, one of the best 3-year-olds in America in 2013, has been transferred to Ballydoyle Stables to be trained by Aidan O’Brien. A winner of the Wood Memorial Stakes-Gr.1 he put up one of the displays of the season when taking the Haskell Invitational Stakes-Gr.1 by a record 9 3/4 lengths for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Ashford Stud manager Dermot Ryan explained the decision “Being the best son of More Than Ready, who is doing so well as a sire in Australia we feel that a European campaign would raise his profile when the time comes for him to shuttle there.”

Todd Pletcher, who trained Verrazano to win 5 races by nearly 39 lengths in 2013, commented “it makes sense for Verrazano to move to Europe as he has achieved so much already here, the owners love to have their best horses run at Royal Ascot and a win there would be of great benefit to his stallion career.”

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  • Tiznowbaby

    Guess it will be interesting to see if he can run on grass. He should with the breeding, but since he’s been raised as a dirt runner…

  • Tinky

    This story should be very interesting to follow, and for a number of reasons. While clearly very talented, Verrazano, in spite of Pletcher’s platitude, proved remarkably little beyond that while racing in the U.S. Yes, he proved that he was capable of running “fast” when dominating inferior horses, but he failed badly in each of his four, truly tough tests.

    Will he do the same in Europe, or will he finally prove himself capable of competing successfully against top-class competition?

    The other point of real interest is so obvious that there’s little point in expanding on it.

    Finally, in response to the point made in the Press Release that Verrazano won “5 races by nearly 39 lengths”, it is also the case that he lost four races by nearly 34 lengths.

    • morethanready

      Two of the marque 3 yr old races every year are the Haskell and the Wood. He defeated top 3 yr olds Oxbow and Normandy Invasion while winning both- certainly not ‘inferior’ horses. The mile and a quarter and the mud compromised him at CD and in the Travers. I thought he lost all chance in the 1st turn at Santa Anita but came back in his 10th race of the year to turn the tables on Goldencents and beat the top older mare of the past two years. He is bred top and bottom to love the turf. I think it will prove to be his best surface. He will return seasoned and fresh; you are right, this could be very interesting.

      • Tinky

        In the Haskell, Oxbow finished fourth, beaten 16 lengths. Do you somehow imagine that he ran to his best, or that having beaten a horse that raced so far below form was a meaningful accomplishment for Verrazano?

        Beating Normandy Invasion in the Wood was his most notable accomplishment, and I agree that “inferior” is too strong a word to characterize that foe. Having said that, given that he has yet to win a single important races, I wouldn’t overstate his value as a yardstick either.

        It is possible that Verrazano will improve in Europe, and not only because of the surface switch. He is a galloping type, and will have many more opportunities to race under favorable conditions.

        • morethanready

          all due respect you are way too caught up in ‘lengths’. Gary Stevens didn’t come across the country nor did Baffert bring Power Broker all that way for a minor share of a race he has owned. Verrazano ran a 116 Beyer!!
          3 year old Grade 1′s are circled by every elite trainer at the beginning of the year. If you win one you have a stallion prospect; two and you are starting your stud career at 40K or better. If Verrazano takes a Euro Grade 1 on the grass he will bring 50K a mare or more in 2 continents- his pop stands for 100K in AUS. I haven’t overstated his value at all.

          • Tinky

            As I stated in my original post, Verrazano has proven that he can run fast when dominating inferior opponents. That’s what happened in the Haskell.

            The best horses that he faced were unquestionably in the Derby, Travers, BC Mile, and Cigar Mile, races in which he never threatened, and was beaten an aggregate of nearly 34 lengths.

            I couldn’t care less what his stud fee would be right now, the fact remains that he has proven little beyond having loads of talent.

          • morethanready

            Well Tinky, a trainer’s job is to make his owners money. If the top breeding operation in the world has seen enough to invest millions in the horse I guess they could care less about ‘lengths’,.

        • Rob Yetman

          The Wood and the Haskell are very important races. If you watch Verrazano he clearly hated getting dirt in his face. When placed on the outside in the clear, he ran very well. When in and among horses he struggled. With his breeding, and the likely fact that his trip in Europe will be 7-8 furlongs, I could see him using that high cruising speed to great effect. Pletcher is a great trainer but Aidan O’Brien is a true master and for my money the greatest trainer in the world.

          • Tinky

            Rob,

            It’s rather silly to simply state that they are “very important races”. Do you somehow imagine that Verrazano beating Power Broker and Micromanage was remotely as meaningful or impressive as Forty Niner beating Seeking The Gold (’88), or Bet Twice narrowly defeating Alysheba and Lost Code (’87)?

            Judging racehorses accurately requires much more than looking at the Grade of a given race, or margin of victory.

          • Rob Yetman

            He beat the Preakness winner. I know people say he didn’t “show up” that day but neither did the Bronco’s yesterday, that doesn’t lessen the accomplishment of the winner. Verrazano ran ten times as a three year old and won six of them. In this day and age, that’s a lot. You could make the argument that he did more then Orb, who never won after the first Saturday in May. I like Orb but his lackluster second-half didn’t stop Claiborne standing him for 25,000. To say that Verrazano is not a very talented horse is to really miss the mark. The Coolmore “Lads” are the smartest guys in the business. I’ll go out on a limb and say they know what they are doing. With APOB at the helm all things are possible.

          • Tinky

            OF COURSE it lessens the accomplishment. What an absurd thing to say!

            By logical extension, if a rival were to be injured in a race, beating that horse would be just as impressive as if it had been sound.

            Also, please refrain from resorting to straw man arguments. In my very first post, I characterized Verrazano as being “clearly quite talented”.

            If he proves himself at the highest level in Europe, I’ll be happy to tip my cap. But he clearly did NOT do that while racing in the U.S.

          • morethanready

            Well Tinky I guess Rob and I plus Todd, Steve, Bob and Ashford are(to use you adjectives) ridiculous, adsurd and silly to think the Haskell is one of the premier races to win….. or for Ashford to think that a 116 Beyer is a major accomplishment. I suggest you quit while you are only 20 lengths behind.

          • Tinky

            In your mind, apparently, a human 100 meter runner who records a time of 9.8 with a tail-wind of 30mph is just as impressive as a runner who records the same time running against a 15mph wind.

            Presumably you also held The Green Monkey in very high regard. After all, he ran really “fast” at the 2yo sale.

          • kyle

            I’ve been bemusedly following your struggle to provide Rob and MTR a little more context with which to view Verrazano’s shoo more season. I want to disagree with one thing you wrote. He never really ran particularly fast. The big speed figure awarded The Haskell – a performance characterized by a series of mediocre fractions, a slow raw final time, and little in the way of competition – never proved out and, so I think, can be discounted.

          • morethanready

            I saw each of his races in person except the Breeders Cup. I even had one of mine in that day at MTH. There was major uproar over the last two Haskell days and how the track had been too quick. The super turned it over the night before and the whole card was slow- my mare raced 2.8 seconds faster next out. The Beyer compares the entire card and class. The time coming home was remarkable in comparison. I’m one of many that thought he bounced off that number at Saratoga, the trip at SA was horrid and his Cigar race was decent but not great against older after a long campaign. Too many horses on the East Coast focus on the Wood for Derby points and the Haskell and Travers for status- he won two of them…. that’s a damn good year.
            And as to running fast…. you should’ve seen that 2/2 race in person.

          • kyle

            First, it’s irrelevant that you saw his races in person. If anything, your perceptions and subsequent opinions have probably been biased by the experience as one of the crowd. Second, I know how speed figures are computed. You seem not to understand the paradigm is far from flawless. And since he never came close to duplicating that figure one should take the 116 with more than a grain of salt. And finally, to say he bounced in The Travers in the middle of his campaign off what should have been two perfect preps is not only too convenient but a misunderstanding of “bounce theory.”

          • Rob Yetman

            How many three year olds at the highest level ran ten times last year besides Will Take Charge(who ran three awful races in the Triple Crown)? Verrazano did. The four races before the Derby took their toll. Palace Malice’s form took a dip after his win in the Jim Dandy. He was another one playing catch-up with the Derby points. The venom towards this horse is breathtaking. Claiborne and the Phipps’ knew Orb had bottomed out and they got him off to the breeding shed. No one seems to begrudge them that. And lets be honest, Orb is as one paced as they come. I like Orb but commercially the Coolmore “Lads” may have the more successful stallion prospect long-term.

          • kyle

            Beside the point, non-responsive, and, as to Palace Malice, an inaccurate reading of his Travers and JCGC vis a vis his Jim Dandy.

          • Tinky

            Well, I’m just glad that you picked up the baton and carried it for a while!

          • Rob Yetman

            Kyle, let me introduce you to a concept called “track variant.” After you meet him, then come back and lecture me about “context.”

          • kyle

            You do realize variant does not come to us from on high?

          • morethanready

            Nobody preps for a race w/ a 116 Beyer in 1000K Grade 1- the Pegasus was the prep. The Haskell was the goal.
            If you don’t believe in variants, Beyers or visual impression what do you use to compare performance- lengths and time like your friend. I hope you bet the same races i do.

          • kyle

            I give up. You win. You’re impenetrable and your circular reasoning has me surrounded. As to wishing to meet me on the pari-mutuel field of battle, perhaps we did battle in The Travers. If you care to do a little digging on this site and ESPN you’ll find my pre-race take, especially my disdain for Verrazano’s Haskell.

          • morethanready

            why would I care to do that….I didn’t bet him in the Travers either.

          • kyle

            Other than price I can’t fathom why? You’ve already told us you think Pletcher not ridiculous, so HIS confidence in his horse going into The Travers would seem to belie the fact HE thought him a bounce candidate. He was stretching out, but according to you his closing fraction in the 9 furlong Haskell was remarkable. Of course, you do then excuse him because of the extra furlong – easier after all is said and done. Any chance you can square this circle for me?

          • morethanready

            Sure. My point was never that he was a classic distance horse(More Than Ready’s rarely are); I simply took issue with the idea that a winner of two Grade Ones hadn’t accomplished anything.
            The track on a hot Travers day was cuppy and his demeanor in the walking ring was dull. I’ve always eliminated horses that had improved their last race Beyer by +10 inside of a month and he gave me no reason to make an exception here.
            Finally, Pletcher trains the horse- he doesn’t own it. There are aways huge bonuses that dwarf the purse for stallions that win Grade Ones after a share has been sold. For example- Repole has always been very involved in where his horses run.

          • kyle

            Nobody said he accomplished nothing. I understand yours is a horseman’s perspective – a Grade 1 is a Grade 1. As a handicapper, I don’t think that attaching a name and a classification to a particular contest defines it. All is context. I think in context, the press release – which got this thread started – was ridiculous in its hype. And boy has this colt been hyped. It’s the hype that turns me into a critic. For example, I heard a former trainer turned radio co-host say Verrazano’s Haskell was the greatest performance he had ever seen ( he was on track that day, by the way). I also read others writing after The Haskell that he was the leading three year old and favorite for the Eclipse. Well, I thought at the time he was just as likely not to win another race in his three year old year. So, bottom line – he’s a good horse; would love to own him; nothing special.

          • Rob Yetman

            By your logic Secreteriat’s Belmont is meaningless. Sham clearly didn’t run his race.

          • Tinky

            Too clever by half.

          • morethanready

            Rachel Alexander, Big Brown, Lookin at Lucky, Bluegrass Cat… all recent winners….. and this race isn’t important. I guess Pletcher, Asmussen and Baffert aren’t meaningful trainers either.
            By the way, the ’87 was an amazing race, probably the best Haskell from a drama standpoint. It was back in the day when horses primarily ran for the purse money and fields were full of stars.

          • Tinky

            You’re really becoming ridiculous now. Horses don’t prove themselves against trainers, they prove themselves by beating other horses. And in case you hadn’t noticed, Verrazano didn’t face a single one of the horses that you mentioned.

  • jttf

    good move by tabor and company.

  • Rob Yetman

    Remember, Declaration of War had spent time with Pletcher in Florida before going to Ballydoyle. If you watch Verrazano’s races he ran powerfully when he was outside of horses, but he hated running in and among horses where he took dirt in the face. He should flourish on grass and for as good as Pletcher is, O’Brien is likely the greatest trainer in the world. O’Brien also has the impressive Saratoga maiden winner Due Diligence in the barn as well.

  • Beach

    Prayers for safety, in all travels and working, and I hope we see him running back in the Breeders’ Cup one day, too… :)

  • Ida Lee

    “expletive”…

  • Black Helen

    Good,
    we won’t see an ugly,white nylon bridle on him ever again, yippie.

  • Tiznowbaby

    Btw, I find it puzzling that Verrazano is called More Than Ready’s “best son” when Sebring was Australia’s champion 2YO with two grade one victories (and second in a G1) and $2.5 million in earnings.

    • Betterthannothing

      See the glorious pres-release they wrote about Corfu’s 3-start racing career which lasted only 2 months and 3 days.

  • Glimmerglass

    Not cited in the press release is that minority owner “Let’s Go Stable” no longer owners any interest in the horse. It would appear they saw they form trail off (like everyone did) and were not willing to see what happens.

    I put a lot of faith into what Aidan can do with a prospect and look forward to what his Euro career will yield. There was talent there last year and maybe racing on turf with Joseph O’Brien up they unleash it again.

    • morethanready

      LGS isn’t in the breeding business. This is a move to enhance his global appeal.

  • cheri

    Excellent choice for Verrazano! We hope he flourishes with O’Brien… we bet he will. Pletcher and the USA aren’t the only game in the world for this handsome horse. We wish him all the luck in the world and think he is in superior hands!

  • Sue M. Chapman

    Very interesting news; Magnier and O’Brien seize the opportunity to train a precocious Pletcher graduate post retirement announcement..

  • David Juffet

    Pretty heated discussion I must say. Will he move forward as a 4yo or did he peak last August? Middle distance turf races might be in his wheel house. I’m glad he’s still In training we need more like him.

  • ricbee

    Cross Atlantic competition is great for the game-i wish it would get more coverage.

  • Bluey

    Go Boy Go. He’s a great horse

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