NEW YORK — Verrazano will attempt to break a longstanding Kentucky Derby jinx — win the race without having run as a 2-year-old.
It’s been done before, but only once in 138 previous runnings, and that occurred in 1882 when Apollo won the Run for the Roses.
Since 1937, 57 3-year-olds have tried and failed to win the Derby without having raced at 2. Three finished second, Coaltown in 1948, Strodes Creek in 1994 and Bodemeister last year, and four others finished third. The rest? Off the board.
After winning the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct over the weekend, an unbeaten Verrazano will take his turn on May 4. On Monday, the colt reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the AP’s latest Run to the Roses’ Top 10 list of Derby contenders, with Florida Derby winner Orb dropping to second.
Bryan Sullivan of co-owner Let’s Go Stable says the topic has been discussed, noting Verrazano was set to run in late December but a suitable race was unavailable. The colt’s first race was the day he turned 3 — Jan. 1, 2013 — and he won by 73⁄4 lengths at Gulfstream Park.
“At some point, it’s going to be broken and, obviously, we’d love to be the people that do it,” Sullivan said recently of the 2-year-old jinx. “But I don’t think that’s going to stop us. I don’t think I’m going to point after the Kentucky Derby and say, ‘Geez, you know what? The reason why we didn’t win it is because we didn’t run nine days earlier.”
Adds trainer Todd Pletcher: “If they had a race on New Year’s Eve he would have won that. That’s totally out of our control. I think one thing we’ve seen over the last 10 years is all the Derby jinxes and Derby trends have been blown up, starting with Barbaro.”