Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's Vino Rosso, last seen finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers, made a successful return to the races under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez with a determined stretch run in Saturday's $150,000 Stymie, a one-turn mile for 4-year-olds and upward at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old Curlin chestnut enjoyed great success in 2018, winning the Grade 2 Wood Memorial ahead of finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.
Vino Rosso went on to finish fourth in the Grade 1 Belmont, won by Triple Crown champion Justify, before rallying to finish third in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy in July.
“It feels great to have him back,” said co-owner Mike Repole. “He hasn't raced since the [Grade 1] Travers. He had a pretty busy 3-year-old campaign. Todd said he's been training great down at Palm Beach Downs and Johnny came up and they got the job done here today.”
Returning from a more than seven-month layoff, Vino Rosso stalked the early pace of California Night, who marked the opening quarter-mile in 23.34 seconds and the half-mile in a swift 45.93 on the fast main track.
Stan the Man took an early run at California Night into the turn as Title Ready, with Jose Lezcano up, launched a menacing bid from off the pace with Sunny Ridge on their heels.
Vino Rosso found another gear as the field straightened to take command and withstood a serious test from Title Ready, earning a determined three-quarter length score in a final running time 1:35.27.
Title Ready completed the exacta with Shivermetimbers, Sunny Ridge, California Night, Stan the Man, Curlin's Honor and Hero's Welcome completing the order of finish.
Velazquez said he was pleased with Vino Rosso's return.
“He broke well. I was not going to take anything away and [stay with] what he does easy,” said Velazquez. “I tried to get him back and put him behind horses and then he's going to take me a long way to get him going. That's the way he broke, and I left him where he's comfortable.
“He got away from the competition pretty easily,” added Velazquez. “I was just worried I was a little too soon. He was pretty sharp today, we got a little close to the pace like I said, but he put in a good run.”
Vino Rosso, bred in Kentucky by John D. Gunther, banked $86,625 in victory while improving his record to four wins and two thirds from 10 career starts. He paid $5.80 to win as the 9-5 mutuel favorite.
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