Vino Rosso got the right trip and was sharp enough stepping up to 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita to prove best in Monday’s $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez.
Despite racing four wide for more than half the race, Vino Rosso was in an ideal position outside 7-10 favorite Gift Box, who hounded pacesetter Blitzkrieg through fractions of :22.97, :46.37, and 1:10.70. Gift Box edged ahead around the far turn, but did not have as much in the tank for the final quarter-mile as Vino Rosso, who got by approaching the eighth pole and stayed on to win by three parts of a length. Deep closing Lone Sailor was more than five lengths behind in third.
Owned by Mike Repole and St. Elias Stable, Vino Rosso paid $10.20 after finishing the race in 2:03 over a fast track.
Vino Rosso proved ready after a pair one-turn races at Aqueduct earlier in the year, a victory in the $150,000 Stymie over one mile and a fourth in the seven-furlong Carter H. (G1).
“We were coming from seven-eighths and we knew we were going to be close,” Velazquez said. “There was only one speed in the race, so we wanted to make sure we forced the pace a little bit. I was trying to force Joel (Rosario on Gift Box) to go with the other horse and it worked out the way we thought. Todd said he was fit for it.”
This was the second career stakes win for Vino Rosso, who took the 2018 Wood Memorial (G2) before finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and fourth in the Belmont S. (G1). In four other stakes appearances last season, he finished third in the Jim Dandy (G2) and Sam F. Davis (G3), fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and fifth in the Travers (G1).
Bred in Kentucky by John Gunther, Vino Rosso was a $410,000 Keeneland September yearling. By Curlin, he was produced by the Street Cry mare Mythical Bride, a half-sister to the Grade 2-winning Belmont runner-up Commissioner, Grade 3 victor Laugh Track, and current Belmont S. candidate Intrepid Heart.