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Verrazano, Normandy Invasion Post Sharp Works

Leading Wood Memorial contenders each post bullet moves March 31 at Palm Meadows.

Verrazano  and Normandy Invasion , leading contenders for the upcoming $1 million Wood Memorial (gr. I), both posted bullet moves March 31 at Palm Meadows Training Center.

Undefeated Verrazano breezed five furlongs in 1:01.17 for trainer Todd Pletcher, completing his major preparations for the 1 1/8-mile Wood April 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack. Normandy Invasion also breezed for trainer Chad Brown, clocking a half-mile in :47.95

With Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard for the work, Verrazano was sent in company with Discreet Dancer, who was credited with the same time, fastest of 15 at the distance. Discreet Dancer, who exits a 5 1/4-length victory in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) March 9, is bound for the Carter Handicap (gr. I) on the Wood undercard.

"I thought it was another excellent work, pretty much what we have come to expect of him in the morning," Pletcher said in reference to Verrazano, speaking by phone a morning after sending out Revolutionary  to win the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II). "It was very good, and a strong gallop out; very pleased. Discreet Dancer also worked well and is on schedule for the Carter."

Campaigned by Let's Go Stable, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derrick Smith, Verrazano broke his maiden on New Year's Day at Gulfstream Park, airing by 7 3/4 lengths over 10 rivals. He then earned a 105 Beyer figure winning a one-mile allowance/optional claiming race by 16 3/4 lengths a month later. His stakes debut came in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) March 9, which he won handily by three lengths after bobbling at the break.

"We felt like he got a little bit of experience in Tampa in that he got behind a horse and got a little bit of dirt," Pletcher said. "Some experience certainly can help you in what I'm sure will be a full gate at Churchill. (Additional experience in the Wood) and the mile-and-an-eighth distance should also be helpful, hopefully, in preparing him for the Derby if we're fortunate enough to go that route."

Verrazano, with 50 points in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) qualifying system instituted this year by Churchill Downs, has secured a potential starting berth. Pletcher said that Verrazano and Discreet Dancer are scheduled to arrive in New York April 3.

For Normandy Invasion, D-Day is near after putting in his final workout for the Wood. With exercise rider Javier Herrera aboard, Normandy Invasion posted the quickest move at Palm Meadows of 35 at the distance.

Brown, also speaking via telephone, expressed satisfaction with the workout.

"He went very well. He did an easy half within himself," he said. "Although the time was very quick he did it very easy. I'm happy with the way he was moving and the way he came back."

Normandy Invasion has made one start in 2013, finishing fifth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths as the 3-2 favorite in the Risen Star (gr. II) Feb. 23 at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Last year's Remsen Stakes (gr. II) runner-up at Aqueduct, the bay Tapit  colt will need to finish first or second to qualify for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I)

"He came out of the race (the Risen Star) in good shape," said Brown. "He probably needed that race for the last bit of fitness after the freshening. He's very fit right now, so I expect him to move forward off the race."

In two starts at Aqueduct last November the Fox Hill Farms color-bearer broke his maiden by 9 1/4 lengths in his second start and missed by a nose when runner-up in the Remsen.

"That's why we chose the Wood," Brown said of Normandy Invasion's record at Aqueduct. "We're confident he likes the track. It takes away one element of guess work."

Like Verrazano, Normandy Invasion will fly to New York Wednesday.