ARCADIA, CA – Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Vino Rosso, already a graded stakes winner at 3, proved that he’s gotten even better with age on Monday when he battled his way to the front and held on late to win the $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1).

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Breaking from post 7 under John Velazquez as the 4/1 second choice, Vino Rosso was keen early, running four-wide near the front as the field passed the wire for the first time. Velazquez kept him four-wide down the backstretch, feeling that he was running comfortably and that the extra distance traveled wouldn’t take its toll.

Up front, Blitzkrieg was the early leader, setting opening fractions of :22.97, :46.37, and 1:10.70 while the 3/5 favorite Gift Box and jockey Joel Rosario kept close watch. Heading into the far turn, Blitzkrieg began to give way along the rail, allowing Gift Box to take the lead, but Velazquez had Vino Rosso glued to his right hip.

Off the far turn, it became a match race, with the chestnut Vino Rosso attempting to power past the stubborn grey Gift Box. Nearing the 1/8 pole, Gift Box appeared to drop off, but the bettors’ choice battled back gamely along the rail and refused to yield.

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His efforts proved fruitless in the end, however, as Vino Rosso hit the wire first by 3/4 of a length. The Todd Pletcher trainee completed the 1 1/4-mile event over the fast main track in a final time of 2:03.00.

“Todd told me he was ready for a mile and 1/4,” Velazquez said. “I knew the pace would be fast early and I just wanted to stay close. He broke very well and we settled in there. When it was time to go, we knew we had to engage Joel to play the game because he was the horse to beat, and we got the job done. Vino Rosso seemed to have it all put together today.”

Lone Sailor, sluggish at the start and platooned at the rear for much of the race, came rallying late down the middle of the lane to take third by 1 length. Mongolian Groom necked out Higher Power for fourth, while behind them came Core Beliefs and a spent Blitzkrieg to complete the order of finish.

Vino Rosso’s win was his second in three 2019 starts, having won the Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct on March 9, and improved his overall record to 12-5-0-2. The 4-year-old son of Curlin, purchased for $410,000 as a yearling, eclipsed the seven-figure mark in earnings, which now stand at $1,253,125.

“I didn’t have to give John any instructions, just a leg up,” said assistant trainer Amy Mullen. “John got here six hours ago and he had a conference call with the owners and Todd. I’ve been here a week with Vino Rosso, we trained over the track to get ready for this race.”

Vino Rosso returned $10.20 to win, $3 to place, and $2.60 to show. Gift Box brought back $2.20 to place and $2.10 to show, while Show paid $3 to show.