Vino Rosso To Make First Start Since Travers On Gotham Stakes Day

With eight wins, 10 second-place finishes, and eight thirds from 48 starts at the current Aqueduct winter meet, good for a 54 percent in-the-money percentage heading into Friday’s card, conditioner Todd Pletcher will look to stay hot on Gotham Day with a trio of formidable stakes contenders.

Vino Rosso, last year’s Grade 2 Wood Memorial winner, returns to the Big A on Saturday, making his 4-year-old debut in the $150,000 Stymie for 4-year-olds and up.

It will be his first start since a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers last summer at Saratoga Race Course.

Owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, the son of Curlin broke his maiden going seven furlongs at Aqueduct in his debut as a juvenile in 2017 before being on the Derby trail. The colt collected a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis and fourth-place effort in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby ahead of his Wood win.

Following a ninth-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, Vino Rosso returned to finish fourth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes and third in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy.

Vino Rosso has trained at Pletcher’s winter base at Palm Beach Downs in preparation for his return, and the conditioner said he’s ready to get the colt’s 4-year-old campaign under way.

“He’s been training great coming into this race,” said Pletcher. “You can see he’s really matured well from last year. It will be an interesting distance for him. We know he’s 2-for-2 over the track having won as a maiden at seven furlongs and in the Wood at a mile and an eighth.”

Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who has been aboard for each of Vino Rosso’s nine career starts, has the call from the outermost post 8.

In the $250,000 Busher Invitational for 3-year-old fillies, a major prep for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks with 50-20-10-5 points awarded to the first four finishers, Pletcher will saddle undefeated Orra Moor for StarLadies Racing and Repole Stable homebred Always Shopping.

Sired by Orb and purchased for $180,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Orra Moor won her debut at five and a half furlongs by 1 ¾ lengths on December 22 at Gulfstream Park. She returned going six furlongs and remained undefeated, impressively winning an optional-claiming race by 7 ¾ lengths on February 10.

“We’re looking forward to stretching her out,” said Pletcher. “She’s been training well and has really come along in her first two starts. She’s made her progressions and we think she’s ready to make her stakes debut.”

Always Shopping, an Awesome Again filly, broke her maiden in her fourth career start by winning the Busanda on February 3 at Aqueduct at 1 1/8 miles and will cut back for the Stymie, which has Pletcher slightly concerned.

“She’s one of those horses that’s just improved each time out,” said Pletcher. “Her Beyer figures have gone up with each race and she’s steadily improved in the mornings as well. I’m a little concerned with having to cut back to one mile for the Stymie, as I think she might be better at two turns, but we’re hoping she’ll get a favorable trip with what looks to be, on paper, a fair amount of pace in the race.”

Orra Moor will leave from post 12 with John Velazquez and Always Shopping will depart from post 11 with current Aqueduct winter meet leading rider Manny Franco in the irons.

With an eye towards the Kentucky Derby, Pletcher said that Moretti, who finished a disappointing sixth in the Grade 3 Withers after breaking his maiden at Aqueduct, would be sent off the Derby trail to receive some time off in Ocala, Florida.

Pletcher also said that the flashy Intrepid Heart, who broke his maiden by 7 ¾ lengths on February 18 at Oaklawn Park for owners Robert and Lawana Low and is a half-brother to multiple graded stakes winner Commissioner, is keeping a possible future start in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes as a long-range target.

“Currently, we’re a little behind [Kentucky Derby] schedule with him [Intrepid Heart],” said Pletcher. “He’s likely to make his next start in an allowance race. Being a half-brother to Commissioner, who finished second in the Belmont, that race might be a long-term goal for us to look towards.”

The post Vino Rosso To Make First Start Since Travers On Gotham Stakes Day appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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