First-crop sires: Vino Rosso, one more stud for Spendthrift

August 23rd, 2023 will follow prominent first-crop sires whose two-year-olds are hitting the track this season. This installment is the first on Vino Rosso.

Winner of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), in the final start of his career, Vino Rosso is back on the racing scene, this time as a prominent first-crop sire in 2023.

A son of Curlin, out of the Street Cry mare Mythical Bride, Vino Rosso has produced six winners from 32 starters in North America, including one black-type stakes winner in the aptly-named The Wine Steward.

With $458,236 in progeny earnings thus far, the Spendthrift Farm stud ranks fifth among all first-crop sires, behind Maximus Mischief, Flameaway, Mitole, and Omaha Beach, as of Aug. 22.

All but Flameaway stand at Spendthrift Farm as well.

Aged like fine wine

Bred by John Gunther and owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, Vino Rosso debuted at Aqueduct on Nov. 11, 2017, scoring a 2 3/4-length victory in a seven-furlong maiden special weight on dirt.

The Todd Pletcher pupil won again at second asking in a one-mile and 40-yard allowance optional claimer at Tampa Bay Downs, then faced stakes company for the first time in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis S. at the same track, where he placed third to fellow first-crop sire Flameaway.

In his second start as a sophomore, Vino Rosso appeared in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), another Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying race, in which he finished fourth to Quip, who beat Flameaway by a length.

Free of both foes in his next start, the Wood Memorial (G2), the chestnut challenged eight rivals, sitting back off the pace before launching a bid to win by three lengths over 1.25-1 favorite Enticed in the Derby prep.

With enough points to qualify, Vino Rosso was sent off the 14-1 eighth choice among a field of 20 in the 2018 Kentucky Derby, but had the misfortune of going up against future Triple Crown winner Justify.

Lacking speed and remaining wide throughout, Vino Rosso finished with mild improvement to finish ninth in the Run for the Roses.

He then skipped the Preakness and pointed toward the 1 1/2-mile Belmont (G1), where he came home fourth to Justify by about 3 1/2 lengths.

To close out his three-year-old season, the Pletcher trainee scored a third in the Jim Dandy (G2) and fifth in the Travers (G1).

His most successful season came in his next and final. Opening his four-year-old campaign with a win in the one-mile Stymie S. at Aqueduct, he next earned a fourth in the Carter H. (G1) at the same track before claiming the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1), and finishing third and second in the Whitney (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), respectively.

For his finale, Vino Rosso met 10 rivals in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, where he stalked the pace before gaining an advantage past the eighth pole and drew clear to win by 4 1/4 lengths over McKinzie.

He retired to Spendthrift in November 2019, and as of 2023, stands for a stud fee of $15,000.

New York-bred hot on the scene 

Among the early successful progeny of Vino Rosso, his most distinguished runner thus far is Empire State-bred The Wine Steward, out of a To Honor and Serve mare, who is unbeaten in two starts.

Trained by Mike Maker, the two-year-old triumphed by six lengths on debut in a five-furlong maiden special weight at Belmont on May 28, then jumped to stakes company in the Bashord Manor on July 2 at Ellis Park, where he was an easy 2 3/4-length winner of the six-furlong sprint.

Purchased as a two-year-old for $340,000 at OBS March, The Wine Steward has now earned $164,000. Bred by Sequel Thoroughbreds LLC, Lakland Farm, and Mark Toothaker, The Wine Steward is the first foal out of Call to Service, a sibling of multiple-graded stakes winner Isotherm.

Other notable progeny

Vino Rosso’s initial winner was Laugh Now, who broke his maiden with a two-length victory at second asking at Horseshoe Indianapolis on May 15. From the barn of John Ennis, the bay colt out of a Tiznow mare came home last of eight on debut at Keeneland in late April but showed marked improvement in his second start, dueling for the early lead before drawing off to beat four rivals.

Among his other maiden winners are Vinos Angel, a filly out of a Hard Spun mare who won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on debut at Pleasanton on July 7. And Cap Classique, a juvenile filly out of a Scat Daddy mare who won at the same distance at Colonial Downs on Aug. 17.

Over the weekend at Saratoga, Dancing Groom (out of a Bernardini mare) romped to a five-length win in a one-mile maiden special weight at the Spa under the guidance of Irad Ortiz Jr.

Vino Rosso is also responsible for overseas stakes winner Khatazhukai, who triumphed in Russia. The two-year-old colt Zaino has yet to win, but placed third in the Royal Palm Juvenile S. at Gulfstream the second time out.

More to hit the track

Two more Vino Rosso babies will look to earn their first career victories this week, with Le Vin entered in a maiden special weight at Parx on Aug. 22 and filly Letterfromthequeen taking on females at Penn National on Aug. 23.