Vino Rosso took the long-awaited $6 million Longine Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. He beat McKinzie, who was the favorite in the race. Vino Rosso is owned by Mike Repole of Repole Stable and Vinnie Viola of St. Elias Stable. Todd Pletcher, the seven-time Eclipse Award winner, is his trainer.
“This is unbelievable. Indescribable,” Repole said. “We’ve won so many graded stakes, but this one feels different. Winning with Uncle Mo (in the 2010 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, G1) was amazing, and I knew it would take a special race to get a feeling even bigger than that. This is the one. This is the pinnacle.”
Pletcher has the most all-time earnings in the sport, and this was his first Breeders’ Cup Classic win.
“Mike and I have been together for a long time, and this was one that we hadn’t won,” Pletcher said. “It’s special.”
Prior To The Classic
Vino Rosso also took the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) in May, which was considered a preparation for the Classic.
“I think as much as getting out over the track, it gave us confidence that the horse handled the track. We knew he would love a mile and a quarter,” Pletcher said. “But also, for me, you’re always trying to figure out, like, when’s the best time to ship: Do we want to ship five days out? Do we want to work over the track? But we had a blueprint in place that worked.
“So we tried to follow that pattern exactly, and we did. And, like I said, the horse, he was just crawling out of his skin, literally, and the way he was breezing, coming into it, you’re just so anxious for the moment to get here.”
As a 3-year-old, Vino Rosso won the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G2), and he placed third in the Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course.
In the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, he was disqualified to second behind Code of Honor.
Vino Rosso was paired with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., and they moved up from fourth as the field made its way into the final turn. McKinzie made an effort to take the lead, but Vino Rosso held on and crossed the line 4 1/4 lengths ahead in 2:02.80 for the 10 furlongs.
“He ran great,” said Joel Rosario, who rode McKinzie. “On a couple of occasions, we got slightly stopped in the run and had to take back. At the top of the stretch, I thought we might have had enough to get home, but he just got tired toward the end.
“I let him run a little bit on the backside just to get my spot. That might have cost him a little bit. He ran his heart out, so we can’t be too disappointed. We were just beaten by the best horse on the day.”
McKinzie, the 5-2 Bob Baffert-trained favorite, finished ahead of Hronis Racing’s Higher Power for second.
The sport also suffered a sad loss when Mongolian Groom was euthanized after suffering a fracture to his left hind limb in the stretch.
“The death of Mongolian Groom is a loss to the entire horse racing community,” Breeders’ Cup said in a statement. “Our equine and human athletes’ safety is the Breeders’ Cup’s top priority. We have worked closely with Santa Anita leading up to the World Championships to promote enhanced equine safety. Santa Anita has implemented numerous industry-leading reforms to enhance the existing health and safety measures with the intent of providing a safe racing environment.
“In addition, Breeders’ Cup always observes the most thorough up-to-date medication practices and restrictions, testing protocols, equine security and surveillance program, veterinary exams, injury management protocols, and racing surface testing. These measures are in place to ensure our athletes are racing under the safest and most transparent conditions possible.”