On Nov. 2, the seven-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Todd Pletcher scored his first win in the Grade 1 Longines Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., with Vino Rosso for owners Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable.
The victory was a redeeming one for the team, who suffered a tough beat when Vino Rosso was disqualified to second behind Code of Honor after crossing the wire first in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 28 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
Pletcher said he was confident in the 4-year-old Curlin chestnut heading into the Classic.
“We sensed early on that he was an improved 4-year-old. Really, in the last two months, and especially the five weeks after the Jockey Club Gold Cup, he was just thriving,” Pletcher said. “We were very excited about the way he trained up to the race. It seemed like everything went according to plan. He shipped there great and trained great over the track when he was there. The trip unfolded exactly how we envisioned it and it was one of those times where everything just came together and the horse was peaking. The conditions were good for him. It was just great to experience, great to see.”
The Breeders' Cup Classic was a second Grade 1 victory for Vino Rosso, who shipped to Southern California in May to take the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, also contested at the 1 ¼-mile distance. Following that effort he was a distant third behind eventual Classic runner-up McKinzie in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga. According to Pletcher, Vino Rosso didn't show as much enthusiasm in training over the Spa that he does at Belmont Park.
“I think the one thing that we kind of felt was that he wasn't at his very best over the Saratoga surface,” Pletcher said. “He didn't run horribly there but he didn't seem to relish it and that's why we didn't go in the Woodward. I do think he likes Belmont, and he performed well here. He seemed to take to the Santa Anita surface and of course the mile and a quarter suits him as well.”
Vino Rosso gave his sire Curlin his first victor in the Breeders' Cup Classic, making them the second father-son duo to win the Classic since 1998 winner Awesome Again sired Ghostzapper – the winner in 2004.
Following the Classic, Vino Rosso was sent to B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Ky., where he will stand for a $30,000 stud fee. Spendthrift also stands notable Pletcher alumni in Cross Traffic, Race Day and recently retired Coal Front, who finished sixth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
Pletcher believes that Vino Rosso has what it takes to become a top-level stallion.
“I think he's got a big future. He's a very good looking horse. He resembles Curlin a lot,” said Pletcher. “He was able to win at 2,3 and 4 and is a classy type of horse which is what the people are looking for. He has a great disposition, he's healthy and sound and has all the attributes you look for in a stallion.”
Bred in Kentucky by John and Tanya Gunther's Glennwood Farm, Vino Rosso is out of the Street Cry broodmare Mythical Bride, who is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner and first crop sire Commissioner. Vino Rosso, who was purchased for $410,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2016, retired with lifetime earnings of over $4.8 million and with three of his six career wins taking place against graded stakes company.
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