Will Vino Rosso Upset the Wood Memorial?

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 5th, 2018

Call me stubborn, but I’m hoping that the third time will be the charm for my top pick in Saturday’s $750,000 Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct.

I have felt since last year that #9 Vino Rosso—a well-bred son of Curlin out of a Street Cry mare—has the potential to be a big player on the Triple Crown trail. Conditioned by the two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, Vino Rosso opened his career with a late-running maiden win sprinting seven furlongs at Aqueduct, then stretched out to a mile and forty yards at Tampa Bay Downs and won with ease against a small field.

The fact that Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez made a special trip to Tampa Bay Downs to ride Vino Rosso hints that the colt is well-regarded by his connections, and while Vino Rosso has proven disappointing thus far in graded stakes company, I still think there’s more to this colt than meets the eye. In the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) at Tampa, Vino Rosso seemed to be going nowhere around the far turn, but re-rallied in the homestretch to finish third by just 1 ¼ lengths, earning a 100 BRIS speed figure and posting a 106 BRIS Late Pace Rating.

Vino Rosso had similar difficulties around the far turn of the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II), dropping back before re-rallying mildly in the homestretch to finish fourth, beaten six lengths. His margin of defeat was substantial, but the pace of the race was slower than in the Sam F. Davis, making it difficult for Vino Rosso to gain ground on the leaders. In any case, his BRIS Late Pace Rating was a strong 104.

After picking Vino Rosso to win his first two graded stakes attempts, I’m inclined to give him one more chance and hope that the change in scenery does him some good. He did break his maiden at Aqueduct, and the fact that Pletcher is trying him in another Derby prep race—despite his sub-par run in the Tampa Bay Derby—is encouraging. Vino Rosso is bred to improve with maturity, and with a little luck, I think he can be a factor in the Wood Memorial at a nice price.

#5 Enticed, impressive winner of the one-mile Gotham Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct last month with a 104 BRIS speed figure, looms as the horse to beat and must be considered as well. Also appealing is #8 Restoring Hope, a well-regarded colt who ships in for trainer Bob Baffert off a 3 ½-length maiden win at Santa Anita two months ago.

I’ll use both of them with Vino Rosso in the exacta and trifecta:

$11 to win on #9 Vino Rosso $2 exacta: 9 with 5,8 ($4) $3 exacta: 5,8 with 9 ($6) $0.50 trifecta: 5,8,9 with 5,8,9 with 3,4,5,8,9 ($9)

Total: $30

Good luck!