Sat 28/04/2018 - 05:40 EDT

2018 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Vino Rosso

2018 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Vino Rosso

Vino Rosso on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard 

A Kentucky-bred colt for trainer Todd Pletcher, Vino Rosso scored his first 2018 Kentucky Derby qualifying points with a third-place finish in the (G3) Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in February. Off that effort he looked primed for the (G2) Tampa Bay Derby, but ran poorly to finish fourth.

That left him in a position where he needed a top-two result in his final Derby prep in the Wood at Aqueduct, and he made no mistake, rallying four wide off the turn and surviving some bumping in the lane to get up for the win by three lengths over the favorite, Enticed. He finished the Derby qualifying series with 107 points, good for fifth spot on the standings.   

Vino Rosso's Race Record 

Vino Rosso started his racing career at Aqueduct, where he won his maiden start at seven furlongs by tracking behind a solid pace to the half-mile mark, and then went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths with a solid drive through the stretch. He then stepped up to the allowance level for his final start of 2017, this time racing a mile at Tampa Bay. He was much closer to to soft early pace in that one, and ultimately prevailed by 2 1/2.

His first start of 2018 was in the Sam F. Davis, and coming off the layoff he was good, but not spectacular, finishing third, beaten by just over a length by Derby rival Flameaway. He met that one again one month later in the Tampa Bay Derby, and again finished behind him in a race where he failed to really run in the final stretch to end up fourth.

It appeared at that point his form was headed in the wrong direction, but he redeemed himself with a very good race in the Wood. He ran in mid-pack through the first half of the 1 1/8 miles, and was forced to go three and then four wide into the stretch before taking over and then digging in for the win. 

Vino Rosso's Pedigree

Vino Rosso's sire is Curlin, who finished in the money in all three legs of the 2007 Triple Crown, with a win in the Preakness Stakes. He had multiple wins at the Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles, including the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic. Vino Rosso's dam is Mythical Bride, who only won once in 13 career starts, but had some success at up to 1 1/16 miles. His damsire is the Irish-bred Street Cry, who was never out of the money in 12 career starts, with five wins, most coming at 1 1/8 miles, including the Dubai World Cup and the (G1) Stephen Foster Handicap.

Why Vino Rosso Can Win the Kentucky Derby

After a disappointing start to his three-year-old season, he took a significant step forward in the Wood Memorial, overcoming some adversity throughout the race and taking advantage of a perfect pace set up for his running style. If he learned how to run with the big boys and moves forward again at Churchill he's in with a shot. His pedigree indicates that he'll have no problem with the distance - in fact, he might even want more distance - and he has the services of a great jockey in Johnny Velasquez, who won last year with Always Dreaming and in 2011 with Animal Kingdom.

Why Vino Rosso Can't Win the Kentucky Derby

His two races at Tampa Bay, especially the Tampa Bay Derby, give reason for pause. He lacks early speed from the gate, and while he's overcome that in races with smaller fields, he could be in trouble if he finds himself way back in the 20-horse Derby crowd at Churchill. He's likely to get a good set up and pace to run at, but horses rarely win coming from way back in the Derby. As good as his Wood Memorial win was, the final time was slow, especially the crucial last 1/8 mile. He needs to find a bit more speed to challenge the top contenders.

Vino Rosso Betting Odds

Right now Vino Rosso sits at a very tempting 16-1 in Bovada's Kentucky Derby future bets list, and could drop a couple points down from there by race day. While maybe not the first choice for the Win, he should get serious consideration in exotic bets like trifectas and superfectas.    

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