published: 03 Nov 2015 in Stallion profiles

More Than Ready’s dual Gr.1 winner Verrazano has big footprints to fill if he is to emulate the success of his sire in the southern hemisphere but he has the race record, pedigree and physique to help him achieve that feat. He retired to stud in the US earlier this year and is now working through his first southern book at Coolmore, Jerrys Plains.

MORE Than Ready (USA) has been a wonderful standard bearer for the Halo line in Australia and the Vinery-based sire is one of the best ever north-south shuttlers. Sebring, one of his two Golden Slipper winners, has been a great success at Widden Stud and Coolmore will be hoping first crop More Than Ready son Verrazano (USA), a dual Gr.1 winner, will follow suit at Jerrys Plains.
  There is every reason for optimism as Verrazano was among the best of his generation at three in the US and then held his own against the leading milers in Britain as a four year-old. His fifth dam is the 1962 English Oaks winner Monade, whose family has been nurtured by the vast King Ranch operation in the US and has provided plenty of top class performers in the past 50 years.
  Verrazano was bred in Kentucky by Emory A. Hamilton from her Giant’s Causeway (USA) mare Enchanted Rock and offered through the Keeneland ring in 2011 by Middlebrook Farm (as agent), a property owned by Hamilton’s sister Helen Alexander. He was sold for $US250,000 to Let’s Go Stable (managing partners, brothers-in-law Kevin Scatuorchio and Bryan Sullivan). Alexander, who has raced horses in Australia, and Hamilton are two of the four great granddaughters of King Ranch founder Richard King and his formidable wife Henrietta.
  Verrazano went into the stable of leading trainer Todd Pletcher and the big colt (he stands 16.2h) was given plenty of time to find his feet, being unraced at two. He was out early in his three year-old season, making his debut in a $US42,000 Maiden Special Weight over 6.5f at Gulfstream Park on January 1 2013 and cruising home 7.75 lengths clear of runner-up Acclaim. He was back at that track on February 2 where he dominated in an Allowance (8f), motoring home by 16.25 lengths from Eton Blue in 1:34.80.
  “That was about as impressive as you’ll see one run,” Pletcher said after that second win. “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 6.5 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. Obviously he’s earned a right to step into a big one.”
  Coolmore purchased an interest in the talented colt after his second win and he again struck his preferred fast track next time out on March 9 for the Tampa Bay Derby-Gr.2 (8.5f), coasting home by three lengths from Java’s War with regular rider John Velazquez aboard. His biggest test came at Aqueduct on April 6 when he stepped up to Gr.1 company for the Wood Memorial Stakes (9f). Verrazano sat behind the leader for the first 800m and then took charge, dictating the pace and running home the winner by three-quarters of a length from fast finishing Normandy Invasion and with second favourite Vyjack, who had earlier won the Gotham Stakes-Gr.3, third.
  “He hasn’t done anything wrong so far but there are some more preps to go, but I would say right now he’s the legitimate Kentucky Derby favourite,” 
Pletcher said after the colt’s Gr.1 win. “The key now is to go to Churchill and get over that track well. Churchill can be a very peculiar surface and a lot of horses don’t handle it. I think he’s still learning. He has a tendency to idle a little bit and wait on company down the lane. I thought that today he did that a little bit. It was the first time he had horses real close to him at the finish of a race so hopefully every step we make is a learning experience for him and he learns to polish off these races a little better.”
  The Run for the Roses on May 4 proved an anti-climax for Verrazano who met a sloppy track for the first time in the Churchill Downs feature and ended the Derby in 14th place (of 19) behind Orb after a rough trip in the big field. Plans for the other Triple Crown races were abandoned and instead Pletcher gave the big colt a confidence boosting run in the Pegasus Stakes-Gr.3 (8.5f) at Monmouth on June 16. He wound up an easy winner by 9.25 lengths from Reporting Star (Bethel 4.5 lengths third) after his main competitor Itsmyluckyday was pulled up in running. He then headed to the $1m Haskell Invitational (9f) at Monmouth on July 28.
  Verrazano was back to his dazzling best in the Haskell and dominated the Gr.1 event, passing Preakness Stakes-Gr.1 winner and Belmont Stakes runner-up and pacesetter Oxbow in the straight and then taking flight. He drew away by 9.75 lengths in a record 1:50.68 from Power Broker and Micromanage with Oxbow a nose back in fourth.
  “We had the perfect trip and he was incredible today,” Velazquez told the US Blood-Horse magazine. “When I asked him he was right there. He was in a perfect spot and Oxbow was moving easily so I moved Verrazano out to the middle of the track so no one could keep me pinned in. It looked like Oxbow was going a little slow on the lead so I went up to put a little pressure on him. Power Broker moved at us a little and my horse just took off. He was real impressive”
  “The way he finished today over a track that’s been deep and demanding all week with his ears pricked at the wire showed he handled it pretty well. Those of us who’ve been around this horse have always had a lot of confidence in him and anyone who knows him isn’t really surprised by what they see,” Todd Pletcher said.
  It was Verrazano’s sixth win in seven starts in a seven-month campaign and the colt was then unplaced when seventh in the Travers-Gr.1 (10f) next time out on August 24. Off the scene until November 30, he was fourth behind Goldencents in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-Gr.1 and then third in the Cigar Mile-Gr.1 behind Flat Out on November 30.
  Coolmore then shipped the colt to Aidan O’Brien in Ireland, mindful that Gr.1 form on turf would set up the son of More Than Ready for a shuttle career. He did not win in three starts in the UK in 2014 but was third in the Lockinge Stakes-Gr.1 (beaten 1.75 lengths) to Olympic Glory at Newbury on May 17 and then second in the Queen Anne Stakes-Gr.1 (three-quarters of a length) to Toronado at Royal Ascot on June 17. He was retired after suffering a minor injury when last of five in the Eclipse Stakes-Gr.1 (10f) on July 5.
  “Verrazano was found to be lame after the Eclipse and although it is not a significant injury, time would not permit us to have him ready for the Breeders’ Cup, so the decision has been made to retire him,” Aidan O’Brien said. “It’s very disappointing as he ran two lovely races on his first two starts for us and we had been looking forward to a great season with him.”
  Verranzano was awarded a Timeform of 124 in 2014 to go with his World Thoroughbred Rankings of 119 (in 2013, 2014). He won six races, ran one second, two thirds and a fourth in 13 starts and had earnings of $US1.86m against the best company in the US and Britain. Verrazano retired to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky in 2015 on a $US22,500 fee. He looks great value at Jerrys Plains where his fee is $A13,750 (the equivalent of $US9737).
  Verrazano has the pedigree to back his racetrack performance as he’s by on outstanding sire, particularly of juveniles, and from a family where the black type runs deep. His five-generation pedigree features doubles of breed shapers Northern Dancer (4fx5m) and Mr. Prospector (4mx3f) and his dam is inbred to Blushing Groom (4mx3f). Verrazano’s sire is a son of Halo, whose dam Cosmah (Cosmic Bomb-Almahmoud by Mahmoud) is a sister to Natalma (dam of Northern Dancer). Natalma is 3mx3f in the pedigree of champion sire Danehill (USA), a horse who has proved a particularly good fit with More Than Ready and should also work well with Verrazano. The lines 
of Mr. Prospector, Sadler’s Wells, Sunday Silence (duplicating Halo), Biscay (Canny Lad and Marscay), A.P. Indy and other lines of Northern Dancer (Nijinsky, Storm Cat, Nureyev Dixieland Band) have also featured in good winners by More Than Ready and are also worth considering when planning matings to his Coolmore-based son.
  More Than Ready (Southern Halo-Woodman’s Girl by Woodman (USA)) won seven races in the US including the King’s Bishop Stakes-Gr.1 (7f) and five races at two. Although primarily a sprinter he was courageous enough to carry his speed to a second place in the Blue Grass Stakes-Gr.1 (9f) and a fourth in the Kentucky Derby-Gr.1 (10f). He has more than 140 stakes winners and while he is a particularly good sire of juveniles (including Slipper winners Sebring and Phelan Ready; Blue Diamond winners Samaready; Champagne Stakes winner Carry on Cutie; Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Pluck; Belmont Champagne Stakes winner Daredevil); he’s also produced outstanding milers such as More Joyous (21 wins, Flight Stakes, George Main, Doncaster), sprinters such as Perfectly Ready (Goodwood Handicap) and Regally Ready (Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint) and classic horses such as Benicio (VRC Derby), Dreamaway (WA Derby and Oaks), Room Service (Santa Anita American Oaks), More Than Sacred (NZ Oaks).
  More Than Ready, whose fee at Vinery this season is $66,000, owns an interesting pedigree as his sixth dam is La Troienne and his dam sire Woodman is also from this family (La Troienne is his sixth dam) as is Woodman’s dam sire Buckpasser (La Troienne is his third dam). Danehill’s second dam, Spring Adieu, is also by Buckpasser. Adding further strains of La Troienne could prove a winning formula. 
  More Than Ready’s sire Southern Halo (Halo-Northern Sea by Northern Dancer), a runner-up twice at Gr.1 level, went to Argentina where he was Leading Sire 10 times and left more than 170 stakes winners (56 Gr.1) and also became a champion sire of broodmares. A $US600,000 Keeneland yearling in 1984, he was bred by E.P. Taylor and raced by Stavros Niarchos and won five of 24 starts, all in the US for trainer D. Wayne Lucas after starting out in training in Ireland where he had two starts. Southern Halo was pensioned from stud duty in 2009 and died later that year in his paddock at Haras La Quebrada aged 24. He also stood in the US 
(at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud) and in Japan
  Verrazano’s dam Enchanted Rock was unplaced at her only start and she is by European Horse of the Year and Champion 3YO Giant’s Causeway (Storm Cat-Mariah’s Storm by Rahy), a dual Champion Sire in the US and shuttler to the Hunter Valley from 2002-04. His local progeny include Gr.1 winner Juste Momente, Gr.2 winners Showcase and Santagostino, Gr.3 winner Awesome Planet as well as Causeway Lass, Causeway Queen, Liquidation, Murjana, Rabbuka and Nadege. His northern Gr.1 winners include the sires Shamardal and Footstepsinthesand (both former shuttlers) and he has sired the winners of more than $150m (156SW).
  Giant’s Causeway’s wins included the Sussex Stakes, Irish Champion Stakes, St James’s Palace Stakes, Eclipse Stakes, York International Stakes and Prix de la Salamandre, all Gr.1. His sire Storm Cat (Storm Bird-Terlingua by Secretariat) was outstanding at two and also became a Champion Sire in the US. Storm Cat has many pedigree similarities with Royal Academy (USA) and it’s worth considering his daughters, or mares by his son Bel Esprit, as possible mates for Verrazano. Ditto for daughters of Footstepsinthesand (also brining in more Blushing Groom) or Shamardal.
  Enchanted Rock’s four foals are all winners and also include the Gr.2 winner El Padrino (by the A.P. Indy son Pulpit). Her dam is the Keeneland Ashland Stakes-Gr.1 winner Chic Shrine (Mr. Prospector-Too Chic by Blushing Groom), a sister to multiple Gr.1 winner and Champion Older Mare in the US, Queena, whose Hollywood Derby-Gr.1-winning son Brahms (Danzig) shuttled to Vinery from 2002-04 leaving stakes winners Belltone, Just Crewsin’ and Real Mak. 
  Enchanted Rock, Chic Shrine and Queena were all bred by Emory Hamilton, while Verrazano’s third and fourth dams Too Chic and Remedia (Dr Fager) were bred by King Ranch, who had a presence for a time in Australia as co-owners of Woodlands. In fact one of their US imports, Heart of Market (To Market), became dam of Golden Slipper winner Marscay and another, Wiley Trade (USA) (To Market), became dam of Melbourne Cup winner Subzero.
  King Ranch was founded in 1853 by 29 year-old Richard King, an orphan who had run away from New York at eight to make his fortune and became a canny entrepreneur. He purchased 6070ha (15,000 acres) of land in Texas for two cents and acre and by the time of his death in 1885 had increased the size of his holding to 248,476ha (614,000 acres). His widow Henrietta ran the property for 40 years before son-in-law Robert J. Kleberg Jr and daughter Helen took over. They began to breed thoroughbreds in the 1930s, standing Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Bold Venture. He sired King Ranch’s Triple Crown winner Assault and Kentucky Derby winner Middleground, also winner of the Belmont.
 King Ranch purchased the English Oaks winner and Arc de Triomphe runner-up Monade (Klarion-Mormyreby Atys), the European Champion Three Year-Old Filly in 1962 and Champion Older Mare in France in 1963, and she produced all her foals for King Ranch. Most of her black type descendants were bred by King Ranch or by Helen Kleberg Groves, the only child of Robert and Helen Kleberg, or her four daughters, Emory Hamilton, Helen Alexander, Dorothy ‘Dede’ Matz and Carolina ‘Cina’ Fogason. The 2014 US Gr.1 winner Somali Lemonade (Lemon Drop Kid), a fifth generation descendant of Monade, was bred and owned by Fogason and her dam Chic Corine (Nureyev) 
is a half-sister to Enchanted Rock. 
  Their dam Chic Shrine produced six winners including Gr.2 winner Waldoboro (Lyphard), and his Listed-winning sister Tara Roma, dam of Gr.1 winner Serra Lake (Seattle Slew) and Gr.3 winner Cappuchino (Capote). Next dam Too Chic (Blushing Groom) is also a Gr.1 winner (Maskette Stakes) and left seven winners. She is a sister to stakes winner and Gr.1 placed (St James’s Palace Stakes) Lord Florey, a sire in Chile. Verrazano’s fourth dam Remedia (Dr Fager), won four races and left six winners and is a half-sister to stakes winner and Gr.1 runner-up Pressing Date (Never Bend) and to stakes placed Koryo (USA) (Ribot-Monade by Klairon), a sire in Australia best known for his Gr.1 winner Manuan and other stakes winners Tetue Topaze, Linga Longer and Madam Monet. This is family 13d.
  Named after a bridge joining the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island, Verrazano proved one of the best of his generation on the track and has a pedigree to succeed at stud. If he stamps his youngsters with his eye-catching physique then they will certainly command attention at yearling sales, surely another bonus for broodmare owners who support this young horse in his first southern season.
  However we will leave the last word to his trainer Todd Pletcher, “Verrazano is a striking individual to a look at, he’s a really gorgeous horse. He always impressed me, both in the mornings and in the afternoons. His run in the Haskell was a monstrous effort. He just blew them away that day.” n