JockeyIrad Ortiz Jr.
OwnerRepole Stable, St. Elias Stable LLC
BreederJohn D. Gunther
Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s 4-year-old Vino Rosso swept past favored McKinzie in the upper stretch and drew off to a 4 ¼-length victory in the 2019 $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Vino Rosso covered the 1 ¼ miles over a fast main track in 2:02.80. It is the first win in the Classic for Pletcher and Ortiz. It is Pletcher’s 11th Breeders’ Cup victory and the ninth for Ortiz, who picked up four victories this weekend.
Preakness winner War of Will set the pace with McKinzie in closest pursuit and Vino Rosso in the fourth. Going into the far turn, War of Will dropped off the pace leaving McKinzie in front as they hit the top of the stretch with Vino Rosso sweeping three-wide to quickly blow past McKinzie to the victory as the 9-2 third choice in the field of 11. McKinzie finished 4 ¼ lengths in front of Higher Power who was another 2 ¼ lengths ahead of the mare Elate.
“This is unbelievable. Indescribable,” said jubilant co-owner Mike Repole. “We’ve won so many graded stakes, but this one feels different. Winning with Uncle Mo (Juvenile) was amazing and I knew it would take a special race to get a feeling even bigger than that. This is the one. This is the pinnacle.”
“I was confident the whole way but you always have doubts until you cross the wire,” Repole continued. “With a half mile to go maybe I thought he was a little too far back, but Irad can walk on water today. He’s done everything right so I just felt really good. This is so special.”
“He was moving in the turn so, so good,” said Oritz, who also won the Bill Shoemaker Award for the Most Outstanding Jockey of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup. “Going onto the backside I said, ‘I’ve got a good chance if McKinzie is going to come back to me at the distance.’ That worked out good, he came back to me and my horse responded to me the way I expected him to and he won off on his own at the end.”
In his start prior to the Classic, Vino Rosso crossed the wire first in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Sept. 28, but was disqualified and placed second for interference with Code of Honor, who finished seventh in the Classic as the 7-2 second choice.
Commenting on the Classic win, Pletcher said, “We just felt like the last five weeks the horse has been training unbelievably well. I’ve been anxious for the race to get here and just nervous about it. It’s been a while since I came into a race of the magnitude with a horse doing this well. Every indication in his works, the way he shipped in, the way he galloped over the track. Everything was there indicating he was sitting on a lifetime best performance. So you always worry, did we ship in at the right time, but every indication was he was sitting on a big one and when it actually happens it’s very rewarding, very fulfilling, very emotional.”
Vino Rosso, a Kentucky-bred chestnut son of 2007 Classic winner Curlin out of the Street Cry mare Mythical Bride, was bred by John D. Gunther. The victory was worth $3,300,000 and increased Vino Rosso’s earnings to $4,803,125 with a record of 15-6-1-3 that included a Grade 1 victory in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May of 2019.
Following the Breeders’ Cup win, Vino Rosso was retired to stud at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky, and was later voted the Eclipse Award for Champion Older Dirt Male of 2019.