Welcome back to the Twelve Days of Curlin Babies, where we celebrate the twelve most memorable races from Curlin’s progeny throughout 2018. Through all the hundreds of races in which they ran this year, these are the ones to which my mind keeps wandering back.
#12: Timeless Curls Marks Herself a Rising Star
#11: Secret Passage Comes Into His Own
#10: Legit Proves Aptly Named in His Gulfstream Unveiling
#9: Bishop’s Pond Proves She Is a Dirt Horse, After All
#8: Good Magic Reasserts His Class in the Blue Grass
#7: Dixie Moon Never Quits in the Carotene
#6: Amiral Rallies, Stuns, and Begins a Banner Day for His Sire
#5: Dabster Gives His All Against Battle of Midway
#4: Campaign Wins Twice at Kentucky Downs
#3: Vino Rosso Rediscovers His Best in the Wood
Vino Rosso (Mythical Bride, by Street Cry) ran on a belated third behind Flameaway and Catholic Boy in the Sam F. Davis (G3), his first stakes attempt. It was the kind of run that ignited hope: not the usual mild rally that makes one thing that perhaps he just needed a little more racetrack, but the sort of run that exposes the lightbulb screwed between his ears, shows the filament flickering and finally beginning to burn just as he approached the wire.
The Tampa Bay Derby (G2) gave Vino Rosso the chance to prove his light had come well and truly on, but instead, he never made a move. He settled for fourth, well detached from Quip, Flameaway, and World of Trouble.
The more easily dissuaded decided that the Sam F. Davis was a tease, and some wondered whether he should be diverted from the Derby trail or set aside for a summer campaign. Instead, Vino Rosso ventured back to Aqueduct, the same place where he had broken his maiden so comfortably in his November debut.
Trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable chose well.
Old Time Revival hustled to a yawning lead, as race favourite Enticed and Bob Baffert shipper Restoring Hope tracked in the next flight. Vino Rosso, not rushed by rider John Velazquez, settled in two wide in the second-to-rear flight through the first turn. Down the backstretch Old Time Revival remained in command; Velazquez poked at Vino Rosso to gain on the outside, and he responded, inching along to the middle of the main field.
Into the far turn, Enticed and Restoring Hope launched twin bids. Vino Rosso wouldn’t be left behind; as they launched into Old Time Revival’s margin, the son of Curlin joined them three wide.
Into the final quarter, with Old Time Revival reeled in and Restoring Hope left flat-footed, Enticed tried to stay with Vino Rosso. Enticed dug in, remaining affixed to Vino Rosso’s inside, a head behind, to the furlong mark.
As so often happens in nine-furlong races, the final furlong told the tale of who could stay. Vino Rosso did; Enticed did not. Vino Rosso edged clear, crossing the wire three lengths clear of Enticed, alone in second.
That win in the Wood proved the high point of Vino Rosso’s season. He followed up his victory at Aqueduct with a late-running ninth behind Justify in a muddy Kentucky Derby (G1). He looked like he was making a threatening bid on the far turn in the Belmont, but flattened out to fourth, three and three quarters lengths behind Triple Crown winner Justify. A three-quarter-length third behind fellow Curlin son Tenfold in the Jim Dandy (G2) suggested he was perhaps coming back into his best, but a chasing fifth behind Catholic Boy in the Travers (G1) ended up being Vino Rosso’s final start of the year.
Vino Rosso is not back on the worktab, though hopefully he can return at four. After all, both sides of his pedigree suggest age will do him well.