Verifying – Kentucky Derby Context

April 24th, 2023

Verifying exits a commendable second in the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland, missing by a neck to Tapit Trice, and his speed adds to the appeal. The 2023 Kentucky Derby lacks confirmed early types, and with a favorable start, Verifying is a candidate to be setting pace under a leading rider at Churchill Downs.

Verifying faltered when employing rating tactics as the favorite in the Rebel (G2) two starts back, finishing fourth, but he closely tracked in second before taking the lead near the conclusion of the far turn in the Blue Grass. A Grade 1-placed juvenile, the speedy bay colt will look to keep advancing upon the encouraging performance, netting a career-best 102 Brisnet Speed rating last time, and he has the right connections, breeding, and run style to make a major impact in the Kentucky Derby.

Top Brisnet Speed: 102

Top Brisnet Late Pace: 100

Owner: The Coolmore-affiliated partnership of Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, Jonathon Poulin and Michael Kuessner (Westerberg) campaign Verifying. Tabor owned 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch, and Tabor and Smith raced 2004 Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart. Coolmore partnerships are unplaced from 12 starts.

Trainer: Brad Cox, who was born and raised near Churchill Downs, finished first and third with his first two Kentucky Derby starters, Mandaloun and Essential Quality, who were elevated one spot via disqualification in 2021. The two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer brings a 5-1-0-1 record into his third Kentucky Derby appearance, and Verifying is one of four Cox runners in the main body of the 20-horse field, along with Angel of Empire, Hit Show, and Jace's Road.

Jockey: A nine-time leading jockey at Churchill Downs, Tyler Gaffalione will seek his first Kentucky Derby victory. He’s unplaced from five previous starts, the best finish being a seventh by War of Will (2019), who won the Preakness two weeks later. The champion apprentice jockey of 2015, Gaffalione recorded his first two Breeders’ Cup race wins in 2022.

Breeder/Sales: A Kentucky-bred colt for David Fennelly’s Mountmellick Farm and Adrian Regan and Fergus Galvin’s Hunter Valley Farm, Verifying sold for $750,000 as a yearling at the 2021 Keeneland September sale. Mountmellick and Hunter Valley, a high-end breeding operation, partnered in 2018.

Sire: Justify, who became the only undefeated Triple Crown winner in 2018, battled Bolt d’Oro and Good Magic for leading first-crop sire before just missing in third last year. The hot new stallion has been represented by at least three winners in Japan, and Justify counts Australian and Irish runners among his eight stakes winners so far. By Scat Daddy, Justify stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky.

Dam: The seventh foal to race from the multiple stakes-winning Diva Delite, Verifying counts as a half-sister Midnight Bisou, the champion older dirt female of 2019 and earner of more than $3.9 million. Diva Delite is by multiple Grade 2 winner and millionaire Repent, a son of 1996 Preakness winner Louis Quatorze.

Further Reading on Verifying

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