Courtesy of Curtis Kalleward of the Racing Dudes
ARCADIA, CA - Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Vino Rosso found vindication on Saturday when he uncorked an explosive turn of foot and shot past McKinzie in mid-stretch to win $6 million Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 10 as the 9/2 third choice under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Vino Rosso tracked the pace from fourth within a handful of lengths. Up front, War of Will posted opening fractions of :23.09, :47.16, and 1:10.71.
Vino Rosso bided his time and waited to launch his attack until he was heading into the far turn. Meanwhile, McKinzie - the 5/2 favorite who had been stalking War of Will closely alongside Mongolian Groom - took the lead at the top of the turn and slowly inched ahead. Vino Rosso's momentum took him three-wide around Mongolian Groom and a fading War of Will, putting him within a 1/2-length of the bettors' choice at the top of the stretch.
Collaring McKinzie at the 1/8 pole, Vino Rosso quickly powered past and drew clear in the stretch. As his rider rose in the saddle victoriously, Vino Rosso crossed 4 1/4 lengths the best in a final time of 2:02.80 for the 1 1/4-mile event over the fast main track.
"He was moving in the turn so, so good," said Ortiz, Jr. "He was moving so good at McKinzie. Going into the first turn, I had to use him a little bit. 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."
Though surpassed by the winner, McKinzie was 4 1/4 lengths clear of Higher Power. The race's lone mare Elate made her way to fourth after running near the rear for much of the event.
Math Wizard necked out Seeking the Soul for fifth, with Code of Honor just a nose behind in seventh. Yoshida, War of Will, and Owendale completed the order of finish. Mongolian Groom took a bad step near the top of the stretch and was pulled up before being vanned off.*
Vino Rosso's win was his first since shipping in and taking the local Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1) on May 27 and improved his overall record to 15-6-1-3. The 4-year-old son of Curlin, purchased for $410,000 as a yearling, has now amassed $4,803,125 in career earnings.
"This is unbelievable," said co-owner Mike Repole. "Indescribable. We've won so many graded stakes, but this one feels different. This is the one. This is the pinnacle." Vino Rosso returned $11.20 to win, $5.80 to place, and $4 to show. McKinzie brought back $4.80 to place and $3.60 to show, while Higher Power paid $6 to show.
*Mongolian Groom sustained an injury in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and was immediately attended to by an expert team of veterinarians. During their evaluation at the equine hospital at Santa Anita they observed a serious fracture to his left hind limb. Given the extent of the injury Mongolian Groom was humanely euthanized.
The death of Mongolian Groom is a loss to the entire horse racing community and our sincerest condolences go out to his fans, owners, trainer, jockey and all who cared for him.