Verrazano, a winner of five of six career races, rolled past pacesetter and Preakness winner Oxbow at the top of the stretch on his way to an easy win in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitation at Monmouth Park. An awkward start by Power Broker allowed Gary Stevens and Oxbow to take command of the Haskell in the early stages but dreams of a Pimlico repeat were not to be as Verrazano began to apply pressure as the pair entered the far turn. Verrazano went by Oxbow midway on the turn as the rest of the field struggled to keep up.
The early pace of the Haskell was moderate, at best. Oxbow carved out early splits of 23.90 and 48.22 through the first half mile, while Verrazano began to pounce on the leader as they clicked off an easy 1:12.43 for six. The final time of 1:50.68 is the slowest time for a winner since Delta Flag took the 1978 version in 1:53.20. But, as is the case many times in horse racing, the time doesn't really tell the whole story. Verrazano was probably never fully extended by Johnny V. in deep stretch and the easy early splits allowed him to set the cruise control all the way around the Monmouth Park main track. One thing is clear from the Haskell: Verrazano was much the best.
Looking a little closer at the splits and pace of the race as compared to the other dirt routes on the card, the Haskell was neither significantly faster or slower than the pace in the G2-Monmouth Cup (47.33 / 1:12.84) or G2-Molly Pitcher (47.85 / 1:12.47), but was a good deal quicker than both of the two-turn allowance races (Race 7 - 48.38 / 1:13.58, Race 14 - 48.17 / 1:13.73). Below is a summary of the splits for all the two-turn dirt races on the Monmouth card:
Power Broker's poor start put him in the middle of the field during the early stages but he was able to recover and run a good second to the winner. Micromanage closed to finish third. Early pace setter Oxbow held on to finish fourth.
Verrazano is a three-year-old colt by More Than Ready out of a Giant's Causeway mare (Enchanted Rock), trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez. The Haskell is Verrazano's second win at the Grade 1 level following his victory in the Wood Memorial this spring. Verrazano's next start will likely come in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
Below are the payouts, fractions and internal splits for the Haskell Invitational:
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