When Viola was asked if he will allow himself to imagine winning the Run for the Roses for the second consecutive year, he replied, “It’s very unrealistic and probably not smart to. But I think, appropriate to last year’s horse we won with, I’ll be dreaming of that every night because we’re all dreamers. But that’s not to discount the difficulty.”
In a sense, the 94th running of the Grade 2 Wood was about the rich getting richer. Vino Rosso gives Todd Pletcher, who trained Always Dreaming, at least four shots at repeating and gaining his third Derby victory overall.
Repole, too, increased the strength of his hand. He also has a financial stake in Noble Indy.
“I feel blessed. I’m excited,” said Repole. “We won the Louisiana Derby and this horse is getting better and better. I feel good to have two legitimate shots in the Derby with two horses that won their last races and won $1 million races.”
Actually, the Wood carried a $750,000 purse. But, hey, who’s counting?
“We’re feeling like we’re seeing a horse that has that talent and he’s doing well and we felt like the mile and an eighth is something he’s looking for,” said Pletcher, referring to the Wood distance. “This is the performance we’ve been looking for.”
Alvarado hardly got the outcome he was looking for after he objected to what he felt was contact initiated by John Velazquez aboard Vino Rosso.
“I got bumped three times. I got pinched on the rail. This was way too much,” Alvarado fumed. “I didn’t even bump him once. This is unacceptable. If somebody else rode that way, he would have been taken down.”
“I thought we had a really good chance to get put up,” he said. “We got hit pretty hard twice and lost our action behind.”
Vino Rosso came off a swift pace set by Old Time Revival, who weakened to eighth in a field of nine. The winner covered the distance in 1:49.79. Restoring Hope, making the leap to Grade 2 competition after breaking his maiden in his previous start, performed well in finishing third for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.