JC / Railbird


There’ll be no getting away from it:

“We’ll have to answer all those Apollo questions,” Pletcher said, after describing Verrazano’s debut Jan. 1 and his projected route to Churchill Downs. Indeed, the undefeated Wood Memorial favorite broke his maiden on New Year’s Day. If he gets to the Kentucky Derby, he’ll be attempting to become the first horse who hadn’t started as a 2-year-old since Apollo to win the Derby. That was in 1882.

Every other Derby rule has been broken, but raced-at-2 still holds. Earlier this year, handicapper Jon White wrote about its 137-1 record and noted that:

Going all the way back to 1956, horses who did not race at 2 are a combined 0 for 49 in the Kentucky Derby. During this period, just five horses who did not race at 2 managed to even place or show in the Run for the Roses …

The 0 for 49 in 56 years stat points up a weakness in the rule — when we talk about contenders who didn’t start as 2-year-olds, we’re talking about a small group, even in recent years. Going back to 2003, only nine starters out of 192 didn’t race as juveniles. And of the five unraced-at-2 starters since 1956 who finished second or third in the Derby, two did so in the last five years.


So if Verranzano had debuted one day before, on December 31, he’d qualify under the “Raced at 2” rule? For me, at this point along the Derby trail, Verranzano has no knocks.

Posted by EdF on April 5, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

Exactly. As Pletcher put it, “If they had a race on New Year’s Eve he would have won that.”

I don’t know if Verrazano can win the Derby, but his presence this year really brings up how the raced-at-2 rule is more a technicality than a handicapping principle.

Posted by JNC on April 6, 2013 @ 7:54 am