Verrazano stamped himself as an exciting prospect for this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with a spectacular 16 1/4-length victory in the fifth race at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 2 (VIDEO) .
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. Verrazano pressed pacesetter Gunderman
along the backstretch and far turn before taking over approaching the quarter pole and handily drawing away to his second victory in as many starts.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Verrazano debuted at Gulfstream with a 7 3/4 -length victory for Let's Go Stable on Jan. 1.
"That was about as impressive as you'll see one run," Pletcher said. "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 1/2 furlongs and stretching out against some horses with more experience and some stakes form. We were encouraged going into it and even more so coming out."
Verrazano ($2.40), favored at 1-5 in a field of five, ran the mile in 1:34.80. Eton Blue
finished 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 (Feb. 23) Fountain of Youth, so it probably won't be there."
Verrazano is a half brother to stakes winner El Padrino
, who is currently pointing for a start in the Feb. 9 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream. The winner was bred in Kentucky by Emory A. Hamilton out of the Giant's Causeway
mare Enchanted Rock
, and was a $250,000 purchase from the 2011 Keeneland Association September yearling sale when consigned by Middlebrook Farm, agent.