Vino Rosso Odds to Win the 2018 Belmont Stakes with Picks and Predictions
Todd Pletcher did not have the Kentucky Derby that he was hoping to. As has too often been the case, he had plenty of quantity but lacked the quality on the day that he needed. He skipped the Preakness to regroup but is back with two of his Derby horses for another shot in the Belmont. Of the two, Vino Rosso is probably the more impressive and the readier for this spot. But is he good enough to be a factor in this edition of the Belmont? Pletcher is the defending champion in this race, so he's got a streak to defend.
Last race: The Derby did not go particularly well for the horse. After being near the back of the pack early on, he moved up and was in 10th spot for much of the way. To get there and stay there, though, he had to go wide, and that cost him extra ground. In the stretch he found some room to move, but though he had the opportunity he didn't have enough left to be a real threat. He wound up ninth. It wasn't a damning race, and the off track seemed to be a factor for him as he was seeing it for the first time, but it certainly could have been better.
Prior experience: The horse started his career on a bit of a winning streak. First, he broke his maiden in his first try at Aqueduct in November. Then he came back a month later and won an allowance race in much warmer surroundings at Tampa Bay Downs. That was the last time he ran outside of stakes company. At three he made his debut in the Sam F. Davis, finishing third in a solid field. Next he was fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby. The issue in both races was that he lacked a real bid in the stretch when he had the opportunity to gain ground - just like in the Derby. A change of scenery was obviously what he needed, because to make a last gasp at Derby qualification he headed back to Aqueduct for the Wood Memorial. That day he had the move that was missing before. After stalking early he moved to the lead and pulled away convincingly in the stretch. It was a very solid race - sadly one that we have only seen that one time in a big race.
Trainer: Todd Pletcher. I'm going to do Pletcher a favor. Every time I talk about him in one of these previews - which is very frequently given how many horses he runs in Triple Crown races - I dwell on his Derby struggles. I won't this time around. Instead, we'll just focus on the fact he has won this race three times over the years - with Rags to Riches, Palace Malice and last year with Tapwrit. He's also won many meet training titles at Belmont, which is basically his home track. Pletcher is very good at getting horses to Triple Crown races, and he has won his share.
Jockey: John Velazquez. Velazquez is the first-choice rider for Pletcher and has been for a long time. He could have had his choice of any Pletcher horse in the Derby, yet he chose to stick with this colt, who he has been on for every start. And he's back again for more. That's more of an endorsement in the Derby than here since this horse seems clearly better than Noble Indy, so the choice wasn't likely that tough. Velazquez has won the Derby and the Belmont two times each, with his wins in this race coming aboard Rags to Riches in 2007 and in 2012 on Union Rags, who is the sire of Free Drop Billy in this year's Belmont. Velazquez has won more Belmont meet titles than he can count over the years and is very comfortable on this track. The horse is in good hands.
Breeding: Vino Rosso is a son of Curlin, the great champion who won the Preakness in 2007. Curlin sired Palace Malice, who won the Belmont for Pletcher, and Irish War Cry, who was second in the race last year. He also sired Preakness winner Exaggerator. He has good Triple Crown blood. Vino Rosso's damsire is Street Cry, best known for siring Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and legendary mare Zenyatta. He also sired Winx, the great Australian mare who is currently in the midst of a 25-race win streak Down Under. This is a very nicely-bred colt, and the distance isn't a significant concern for him.
Odds: Vino Rosso sits at +800 to win the Belmont at Bovada , which makes him the fourth choice behind heavy favorite Justify at -125, and two colts who are very well-bred for this race - Hofburg at +400, and Tenfold at +700.
Can Vino Rosso Win the 2018 Belmont Stakes?: Sure. He's a better horse than he showed in Kentucky, and his breeding is strong enough to set him up well for this race. As I've said about almost every horse in the field, though, his chance of winning depends on Justify not having his best day. This horse would, ideally, settle just off the pace and wait for his chance to make a move. Justify will almost certainly be in front of him, so being able to pass justify relies on Justify being willing to be passed, which means that he will have to be at less than his best.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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