Vino Rosso Negotiates Second Turn, Wins Wood Memorial
Survives Stewards Inquiry
By Dick Downey
Vino Rosso and connections waited out a stewards inquiry to learn there would be no change in the order of finish, confirming his win over Enticed in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
Vino Rosso connected in his third stakes outing after finishing third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes and fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby. In each case, he ran strongly through the stretch but had difficulty negotiating the preceding turn. Not so this time, though.
Vino Rosso and regular rider John Velazquez had to go wide through the first turn. Meanwhile, Old Time Revival led the field of nine early, and in the backstretch was at least a half-dozen lengths in front of favored Enticed, ridden by Junior Alvarado, and the rest of the field through fractions of 22.96 and 46.68 seconds. As he approached the second turn in 1:11.44, his lead began to perceptibly diminish, and Vino Rosso and Enticed engulfed Old Time Revival on the far turn with Restoring Hope in pursuit not too far back.
Turning for home, with Restoring Hope dropping back four lengths by mid-stretch, the race was between Vino Rosso and Enticed, and it was Vino Rosso that was fastest home, clear by three lengths in 1:49.79.
There was a stewards' inquiry and a jockey's objection lodged by Alvarado claiming interference by Vino Rosso in the stretch, but stewards declined to act.
Saturday's win gave trainer Todd Pletcher his fifth in the Wood Memorial. Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable are the winning owners.
Vino Rosso punched his ticket to the Kentucky Derby with 100 points and a total of 107, and Enticed earned 40 to run his total to 103. Restoring Hope, who finished another 5 1/4 lengths back in third, picked up 20 points. Firenze Fire, who's been battling on the New York circuit all year, now has 39 points with the 10 he got today.
Heartfullofstars, King Zachary, Evaluator, Old Time Revival, and Catch Twenty Two completed the order of finish.
Sent off at 4-1, Vino Rosso returned $10.40 for a $2 win wager.
Vino Rosso was a $410,000 yearling purchase at the 2016 Keeneland September sale and has earned $620,500 in five career starts. He's a son of Curlin out of Mythical Bride, by Street Cry (IRE) and was bred in Kentucky by John D. Gunther, who also bred Justify, winner of today's Santa Anita Derby.
Todd Pletcher: "I was a little worried right at the start, because his hind-end kind of slipped out leaving the gate, and it looked it took him about a hundred yards to get engaged. He was a little farther back than I thought he would be, but when you take the pacesetter out, he really was close to the contenders. I felt good about it. I was just hoping he would sustain his momentum around the turn, and he finished up and did great. We're feeling like we're seeing a horse that has that talent, and he's doing well, and we felt like that mile and an eighth is something he's looking for. This is the performance we've been looking for."
John Velazquez: "I got close to (Enticed in the stretch) and he was coming out. So, I made my horse switch leads and when he switched, I leaned on him a little bit, and then he pushed me out and my horse went right back on him. That's what happened. I got him easy, anyway. He was holding his ground out and I was holding him back in. He was the horse to beat and I wasn't going to give him a chance.
Kiaran McLaughlin: "We ran very well to finish second, but I thought (the stewards) could have put us up. It was an excellent race, we finished second, and he deserved to win. I'm sure there will be no change (to go to the Kentucky Derby). He ran a great race."