Of the leading freshman sires in 2023, the one that we are most surprised to see as high up the list as he has been all year is the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso, who currently sits at #1 in one of the most hotly-contested races in recent years.
We say surprised not because he wasn’t an excellent racehorse with an excellent pedigree who had every right to succeed as a stallion, but because he was a very good 3YO who turned into an excellent 4YO at classic distances, and he is by a stallion who is the biggest classic influence at stud in the USA nowadays, out of a mare by a later-maturing stallion who was herself a half to a couple of graded winners at 3YO and up, one of which placed in the 12 furlong Belmont Stakes. And so we expected that perhaps the Vino Rosso offspring would be a bit slower to mature, with him finishing out the year strongly and looking poised to move forward when his first foals turned 3.
Well, we still believe that they’ll have every right to get better next year and with added distance, but Vino Rosso now has 20 winners to his credit already, including the multiple stakes winner at 6 furlongs The Wine Steward, stakes winner at 6 furlongs Cap Classique, and seven additional stakes horses (four of his stakes horses having achieved G1 black-type). He is the co-leader among all freshmen with those nine black-type runners, and has more runners so far than any of his contemporaries.
In addition to his own hot start, sons of Curlin in general are on quite a roll lately — Good Magic and Keen Ice having sired the last two Kentucky Derby winners. And Vino Rosso was arguably a better runner and more commercially built than either of those.
We recommended Vino Rosso for Sweet Saturday primarily because she is a half-sister to the Preakness, Santa Anita Derby and Haskell (all G1s) winner Exaggerator by Curlin. As such, we felt strongly that sons of Curlin would be her best bet going forward, and Vino Rosso offers what we believe to be the best value of all the Curlin sons at stud right now for the reasons set forth above (Sweet Saturday was booked to Vino Rosso at his “early bird” fee of $20,000 before he was subsequently boosted to $25,000).
In addition to being by the right stallion, Vino Rosso also matches well with Sweet Saturday given that her own broodmare sire is Vindication (broodmare sire of Curlin’s 2x Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Elite Power) and she is actually inbred 4×3 to Seattle Slew, who is the strongest cross with Curlin and his sons so far (including Vino Rosso, who has SW The Wine Steward out of a mare by To Honor And Serve, G1PW Dancing Groom out of a mare by Bernardini, and SPW Zaino out of a mare by Congrats).
Physically, Vino Rosso is a good-sized and powerful but athletic stallion who should be a nice like-to-like for the equally good-sized Sweet Saturday, and we can’t wait to see their Pennsylvania-bred foal in 2025!