Shifman: Winning return garners Vino Rosso an NTRA Top 10 spot

March 13, 2019 09:22am
Shifman: Winning return garners Vino Rosso an NTRA Top 10 spot
Photo: Annette Jasko/NYRA

This week, we were supposed to be discussing how the winner of the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) joined the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll, but with the temporary closure of the Southern California track, Vino Rosso delivered the biggest arrival in the Older Male division.

A year ago, the Curlin colt was a buzz horse on the Kentucky Derby trail based on his two wins as a juvenile. He eventually won the Wood Memorial (G2) by three lengths but as with all the other sophomores, he ran into Justify, who made his peers look ordinary.

Vino Rosso, a Todd Pletcher trainee, did not find the winner's circle again in 2018. His season ended after running fifth in the Travers Stakes (G1) when he never seemed interested in competing.

"It feels great to have him back," said co-owner Mike Repole after the now-4-year-old won Saturday's Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct. "He hasn't raced since the Travers. He had a pretty busy 3-year-old campaign. Todd said he's been training great down at Palm Beach Downs and Johnny [Velazquez] came up and they got the job done here today."

Repole, who owns Vino Rosso in partnership
 with Vinnie Viola’s St. Elias Stable, was pleased with the way his charge raced in the one-turn mile Stymie.

“He broke sharp. It was the one thing about him last year at the end: He wasn’t breaking sharp, he decided to give the field a fifteen-length lead, and then decided to run in spots," Repole said. "I thought this was the first race that he was sharp the whole time. Johnny looked under his shoulder like seven times and I wondered what he was doing.”

Vino Rosso’s record Aqueduct is now a perfect 3-for-3 and with his renewed interest in racing has a wide range of options within the Handicap Division.

“Don’t be surprised now if we go a mile and a quarter or we go seven furlongs,” added Repole. “Don’t be surprised if we look at the Carter [Grade 1 at seven furlongs on April 6] or the other race that day [nine furlongs in the Grade 3 Excelsior]. It gives us a lot of opportunities after this mile.”

Looking at the potential for Vino Rosso becoming a player in a wide-open Older Male division, I moved him into the No. 8 spot in my Top 10 ballot this week. It may be a short stay on my list for the 4-year-old, but then again, he looks eligible (and finally interested) in climbing the Top 10.

 Consensus Top 10

 Matt Shifman's Top 10

1. City of Light

1. City of Light

2. Monomoy Girl

2. Battle of Midway

3. Roy H

3. Bricks and Mortar

4. Bricks and Mortar

4. Monomoy Girl

5. McKinzie

5. Roy H

6. Seeking the Soul

6. McKinzie

7. Sistercharlie

7. Zulu Alpha

8. Battle of Midway

8. Vino Rosso

9. Accelerate

9. Game Winner

10. Marley’s Freedom

10. War of Will


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Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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