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Exciting Stakes Action in California
Vino Rosso Scores Mild Upset
Entering yesterday’s Gold Cup at Santa Anita, Todd Pletcher’s Vino Rosso didn’t necessarily attract the attention of the public. Facing heavily-favored Gift Box, a consensus top 3 older horse in training, Vino Rosso found a way to win, inserting himself as one of the top older dirt horses in training in America.
A son of Curlin, Vino Rosso had John Velazquez aboard for the Memorial Day feature, in which the 4-year-old colt overcame a wide trip around the first turn and edged away from Gift Box late. The final time was 2:03.00 with Lone Sailor a distant third in the field of seven.
They bunched early at the front with longshot Blitzkreig setting early fractions of 22.97 and 46.37 just ahead of Gift Box. Up the back stretch, Vino Rosso sat third but in the clear before making it a two-horse race through the far turn.
“It worked out the way we thought,” Velazquez told Santa Anita publicity.
Last season he appeared in two legs of the Triple Crown series, the Kentucky Derby (ninth) and Belmont Stakes (fourth). After a fifth in the Travers — his other start at 10 furlongs or farther — connections shut him down in anticipation of this season.
“He’s come around as a bigger, stronger, better horse this year,” Pletcher’s assistant Amy Mullen added to Santa Anita publicity, “so we were excited to get him at the right distance.”
Bolo Wires The Field
Trainer Carla Gaines has been a fixture in the southern California racing scene for almost two decades. The native of Alabama, who came to training later in life, has had her share of solid horses but for the most part is a rank and file trainer with a solid but not spectacular, national-level barn. In Monday’s Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita, Gaines’ Bolo, sent off at 30-1 wired the field on his way to victory. When the gates opened, Bolo and jockey Florent Geroux got the jump on the nine-horse field and led every step of the way to earn an all-fees-paid berth into the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Mile back at Santa Anita.
Bolo was facing a strong field featuring Maker’s 46 Mile winner Delta Prince and 2018 Breeders’ Cup Mile runner-up Catapult among other graded stakes winners. The son of Temple City, who contested the 2015 Kentucky Derby picked up his own graded scores in the 2016 and 2017 Arcadia Stakes once switched to grass.
“My emotions are coming from the long road back to the track with him and he’s just special,” Gaines told bloodhorse.com. “He took me to the Kentucky Derby. We didn’t do so well, but we went to the Derby.”
In this year’s Shoemaker Mile, Bolo grabbed the lead and set opening quarter-mile fractions in :23.51, :46.95, and 1:10.44. Catapult settled mid-pack while Delta Prince was closer to the rear. Desert Stone was away last after a poor break. Bolo showed no signs of feeling the pressure of a grade 1 as he maintained at least a length advantage. Delta Prince, the 9-5, favorite, never threatened and finished off the board. Bolo went on to score by 1 1/4 lengths and completed the mile in 1:34.07 over good-rated turf.
“What an amazing horse and such an amazing job to Carla and her team,” Geroux told Santa Anita publicity. “She had the horse ready. Last time the horse ran better than what it looked like, it was a bit far for him being a mile and eighth and he only got beat a mile and a half, so I had all the confidence in the world. I knew the horse was ready this time.”