Juvenile Vino Rosso Impresses In Two-Turn Allowance At Tampa

No matter their level of involvement, horsemen and Thoroughbred racing fans are always dreaming of the first Saturday in May, hoping to arrive at Churchill Downs with a Kentucky Derby contender they can embrace.

A Tampa Bay Downs crowd of 2,067, which could swell to 10 times that number by spring, might have seen such a horse today. And even though he is still 2 and has raced only twice, Kentucky-bred colt Vino Rosso showed enough to push aside, for a while, visions of sugarplums among the dreamers.

Vino Rosso toyed with five rivals in the mile-and-40-yard third race, an allowance/optional claiming contest, stalking a slow pace before pulling away through the stretch under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez for a two-and-a-half length victory from stablemate Bon Raison.

Now 2-for-2, Vino Rosso is co-owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, who paid $410,000 for the son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin at last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale. St. Elias Stable is a co-owner of this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming, who broke his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 25 under Velazquez at the same mile-and-40-yard distance.

Both Vino Rosso, who won his career debut Nov. 11 at Aqueduct going 7 furlongs, and Always Dreaming are trained by Todd Pletcher, who also used Tampa Bay Downs as a stepping stone for his 2010 Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver, the third-place finisher in that year’s Tampa Bay Derby.

Can you say déjà vu? We thought you could.

“Tampa Bay Downs has been great to us over the years; it’s been a part of both of our Kentucky Derby winners, with Super Saver making his first start there as a 3-year-old and Always Dreaming breaking his maiden,” Pletcher said by telephone after Vino Rosso traveled the distance in 1:41.82 under a hand ride by Velazquez.

Pletcher said he plans to nominate Vino Rosso to the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 10, a race the conditioner has won six times. But he put the brakes on stamping Vino Rosso as a surefire thing for the Churchill starting gate on May 5.

“He remained undefeated and he showed he can stretch out around two turns, so I feel this was another step in the right direction toward bigger things, hopefully, down the road,” Pletcher said. “It’s always fun this time of year when you have an exciting 2-year-old prospect, and he has shown lots of ability, has a lot of stamina in his pedigree and we’re pleased at how he is developing.

“We’d love to follow suit by bringing another (Kentucky) Derby winner through Tampa. But it is probably a little early to draw comparisons (between Vino Rosso and Always Dreaming),” Pletcher said.

Based on how easily Vino Rosso won, Velazquez agrees with that assessment. Although pace-setter Bon Raison, also trained by Pletcher, ran credibly, the competition wasn’t as difficult as Vino Rosso will face if he continues to progress as hoped.

“I wanted him to work a little harder than he did. It was a little too easy,” said Velazquez, who only showed the whip to Vino Rosso in the stretch to keep him on a true course. “I wanted to teach him a little something down the lane, but he was going away easy from the other horses.

“I thought we’d give him a little test today, but there was nothing to test him with. We’ve got to see when he gets tested and has to work a little harder and see how he reacts to that. Right now, it’s about developing mentally and physically and moving forward from here,” Velazquez said.

As for Always Dreaming, he has returned to Pletcher’s digs at Palm Beach Downs in Delray Beach to resume training. He has been idle since a ninth-place finish in the Travers Presented by NYRA Bets in August at Saratoga, after which he was found to have stomach ulcers and sent to WinStar Farm in Kentucky for treatment and recovery.

The post Juvenile Vino Rosso Impresses In Two-Turn Allowance At Tampa appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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