2020 Freshman Sire Profile – Vino Rosso

Vino Rosso

Curlin – Mythical Bride, Street Cry

Enters Stud 2020 at Spendthrift Farm for $30,000


Vino Rosso did not begin his racing career until late in his two year old season when he won a maiden special weight at Aqueduct and an allowance at Tampa Bay Downs. He returned to Tampa Bay in his first start as a three year old where he ran a strong third behind Flameaway and Catholic Boy in the Grade Three Sam F. Davis Stakes. That effort was strong enough to convince trainer Todd Pletcher to send the colt into the Grade Two Wood Memorial where he was a convincing winner. From there he entered the Kentucky Derby as one of the hot prospects but he didn’t handle the terrible track (or the monster Justify) and finished off the board. He was similarly off the board in the Belmont Stakes before taking some time off and returning to the races at Saratoga. There he ran third in the Grade Two Jim Dandy behind Tenfold and Flameaway. Overall his three year old season was somewhat disappointing with only the Wood Memorial as a victory from seven starts. It was likely a lucky turn as the well bred colt returned for a strong four year old season. He began it with a win in the Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct. Vino Rosso was dropped to a sprint in his next start, the Grade One Carter where he finished fourth against a tough field of sprint specialists. For his next victory he shipped across country for the Grade One Gold Cup at Santa Anita. He faced some of the West Coasts top older horses including Higher Power and Mongolian Groom who would go on to win major grade ones later in the year. But perhaps his biggest competition came from Santa Anita Handicap (G1) winner Gift Box. Gift Box was entering on a five race win streak and was the Vino Rosso took his first grade one victory that day, defeating Gift Box by three parts of a length. He shipped back east for the Grade One Whitney Stakes but could only finish third behind multiple grade one winner McKinzie and Saratoga specialist Yoshida. The race was solid and set him up well for the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). In a controversial finish Vino Rosso narrowly finished ahead of Travers (G1) winner Code of Honor but was disqualified for a bumping incident in the stretch. Vino Rosso ended 2019 with an easy win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) which attracted the best field of older horses in the nation. In it he avenged his defeat to McKinzie. Interestingly his three best races (the Breeders’ Cup and both Gold Cups) came at a mile and one quarter, suggesting that he was best at the American Classic distance.


Vino Rosso is by Curlin a two time Horse of the Year who also won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. Curlin has been a top ten leading sire every year since 2015 and is currently the second leading sire of 2019 behind Into Mischief. Curlin is the best son of the great sire Smart Strike, by Mr. Prospector out of the major mare Classy ‘N Smart. Smart Strike is the sire of top sires English Channel and Lookin At Lucky. Interestingly Lookin At Lucky sired the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate, showing just how strong stamina is in this line. Curlin has sired two champions – with Vino Rosso a leading contender for the Older Male Award this year. His 2020 stud fee is $175,000. Curlin’s offspring have been very successful when inbred to Mr. Prospector and Deputy Minister (Curlin’s broodmare sire) and Vino Rosso is actually inbred to both of them.

Vino Rosso was sold as a yearling for $410,000 indicating that he was a strong physical. He was her second foal but she comes from a very classy female family. Mythical Dancer’s second dam is the stakes winning and graded placed mare Flaming Heart by Touch Gold. She is the dam of grade two winner Commissioner who was also second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) in a photo finish. She also has produced grade three winner Laugh Track who was second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). Commissioner is by A.P. Indy while Laugh Track is by Distorted Humor, suggesting that she may throw to the sire’s propensity rather than passing on her own distance preference. Commissioner is a first crop sire of 2019 and has produced a stakes winner, Soros who won going a mile as well as several stakes placed runners in sprints. That may indicate that his progeny will get better with age and distance as he did. He has been well supported by breeders in his first four crops.


Curlin is one of the most popular sim sires, not available for less than 1000 credits every week. He has sired four champions and 67 graded winners. 21 of those are grade one winners, of which a full eight have Storm Cat as a damsire. This includes three of his champions. In the sim Smart Strike also crossed incredibly well with Storm Cat. Five grade one winners descend from Seattle Slew and two from Summer Squall (another son of Storm Cat’s sire Storm Bird). His best runners seem split fairly evenly between mare breedings and scratchbreds. In real life Curlin’s only son a stud to produce runners so far is Palace Malice who has his first two year olds running this year. Obviously in the sim major Curlin sons Exaggerator (Preakness Stakes (G1) winner and Good Magic (Champion Two Year Old) as well as grade one winners Connect and Keen Ice have all had a chance to produce babies. Of those Exaggerator is the only one who has produced a grade one winner but all but Good Magic (a freshman sire this year) have produced at least one graded winner.


Storm Cat Storm Cat Storm Cat. No seriously Storm Cat. Curlin, sire Smart Strike and Smart Strike’s sons Lookin At Lucky and English Channel have all had luck with the Storm Cat line. Why change what is working? Vino Rosso has no Storm Cat in his pedigree so it seems like an obvious choice. Storm Cat’s sons and grandsons as well as his sire Storm Bird and Storm Bird’s son Summer Squall are all good options and offer different price points from the big sire himself. Looking at the Seattle Slew line also makes sense as Curlin’s real life progeny like champion Stellar Wind and Exaggerator both carry strains of Seattle Slew. Adding a third strain of Deputy Minister to the pedigree might work well as Deputy Minister is highly regarded by the game. The obvious choices are his son Awesome Again and grandson Ghostzapper.

One thought on “2020 Freshman Sire Profile – Vino Rosso

  • December 7, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Nice article as always Spin….. I got my Curlin share ready for the late Spring. Need a Storm Cat mare to go along with it.

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