Who is the best 3-year-old thoroughbred in the country?
Famed trainer Todd Pletcher believes it’s his horse, Verrazano, especially after Verrazano’s dominant Sunday in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
‘‘He made a big statement today,’’ Pletcher said after Verrazano romped to a 9¾-length victory in the $1 million race. ‘‘He’s as impressive as there is with the 3-year-olds right now.’’
The margin was the largest in Haskell history, topping Bluegrass Cat’s seven-length win in 2006.
Sent off at even money, Verrazano allowed Preakness winner Oxbow to set the early fractions in a slow pace. Oxbow, the second choice at 5-2, led through the half-mile mark with Verrazano a half-length back.
‘‘I didn’t want to make it too easy for Oxbow, but I didn’t want to make a premature move with my horse,’’ said winning jockey John Velazquez. ‘‘He didn’t break well, but we made up some room.’’
The two stakes winners went head to head for 200 yards, then Verrazano pulled away from a fading Oxbow and stormed home in 1 minute 50.68 seconds.
It was Pletcher’s third win at the Haskell and Velazquez’s second. Pletcher previously won consecutive Haskells with Bluegrass Cat and Any Given Saturday. Velazquez also rode Bluegrass Cat to his dominant win.
Power Broker, ridden by Rosie Napravnik and trained by six-time Haskell winner Bob Baffert, finished second. Baffert was attempting to win the Haskell for the fourth straight time. Micromanage finished third and Oxbow faded to fourth.
Verrazano, winner of $1.5 million, has won six times in seven starts, including a win in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth on June 16. Verrazano’s lone loss came in the Kentucky Derby, where he faded to 14th overall.
Pletcher said that he plans to take Verrazano back to Saratoga for the rest of the summer.
Verrazano paid $4.20, $3.20, and $2.10. Power Broker returned $4.80 and $3.60, and Micromanage paid $4 to show.
Saratoga — Forty Tales rallied in the stretch to beat Mico Margarita by three-quarters of a length in the $200,000 Amsterdam Stakes for 3-year-olds in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Ridden by Joel Rosario and trained by Pletcher, Forty Tales ran 6½ furlongs in 1:15.64 for his third straight victory.