Verrazano Aims to Stay Perfect in Wood

Unbeaten sophomore Verrazano will aim to keep his status as the Kentucky Derby leader when facing his sternest test to date in the $1 million Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct on Saturday. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the standout son of More Than Ready has basically toyed with three fields to begin his career and there is no reason to think he won’t be up to the task today as he’s improved with each lifetime run.  John Velazquez will once again guide the likely odds-on choice. `

Awaiting the horse to beat is a fine cast, led by the impressive Vyjack, who is unbeaten himself after four lifetime races. Trained by Rudy Rodriguez, the talented son of Into Mischief showed his versatility by going last to first in a fine score in the Gotham S. (G3) in advance of this one, and he’s come back well with a bullet move two back in preparation of this test. Gotham runner-up West Hills Giant has speed and will be dangerous right back, likely at another fine price for John Terranova.

Normandy Invasion, second by a nose in the Remsen S. (G2) in his 2012 finale, ran a bang up fifth in the Risen Star (G2) in his seasonal bow and could be set for a big performance in this one for trainer Chad Brown. The colt will be moving late and should move forward after having one under his belt. Bill Mott’s Mr Palmer has been improving like a good thing and was a sharp winner of the Private Terms S. in his most recent performance. California maiden winner Footbridge and Elnaawi, a sneaky good third in the Gotham, add to the quality of this likely field.

Topping the graded races on the undercard is the $400,000 Carter H. (G1). Among the likely contestants in this one is General George H. (G3) second Brigand, Bold Ruler H. (G3) star Buffum, multiple graded star Caixa Electronica, Comma to the Top, a game winner in the Tom Fool H. (G3) in preparation of this, powerful Gulfstream Park H. (G2) victor Discreet Dancer and multiple graded hero Fort Loudon, from the barn of Nick Zito.
The talented Princess of Sylmar will likely put her four-race win streak on the line for conditioner Todd Pletcher in the $250,000 Gazelle S. (G2). The streaking filly has been mostly unopposed in four runs following a debut run and should be especially tough with any type of improvement in this one.

Also possible include Ruthless S. queen Lady Banks and recent maiden heroine Antipathy, a well-bred daughter of A.P. Indy from the barn of Kiaran McLaughlin.

In the $250,000 Ruffian H. (G2), Top Flight H. (G2) one-two Summer Applause and Twice the Lady, Group 1 vixen My Wandy’s Girl and Grade 1 winner Emma’s Encore, look to be the main draws in this competitive field.
Dual stakes victor Whiskey Romeo, Swale S. (G3) third Undrafted, Kiaran McLaughlin’s Now and Then, impressive Caposella S. star Maleeh and Jimmy Winkfield S. hero Clawback, are the top names headed for the $250,000 Bay Shore S. (G3), for sophomores going seven panels.