Prominent bloodstock agent J.J. Crupi and one of his main clients, Vinnie Viola, had quite an afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack April 7, with a victory in the Carter Handicap (G1) by Army Mule and a Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets (G2) triumph by Vino Rosso.
Army Mule, who races for Viola's St. Elias Stable, had been a $825,000 purchase by Crupi, with the assistance of agent Dennis O'Neill, at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training, and was making only his third career start and stakes debut in the Carter. The Friesian Fire colt is now three-for-three.
Crupi purchased Vino Rosso on behalf of St. Elias and Mike Repole for $410,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. Consigned by breeder John Gunther's Glennwood Farm, the Curlin colt was one of two youngsters purchased at that sale by Crupi for the Viola/Repole partnership. The other colt, a son of Repole-raced prominent sire Uncle Mo named Life's a Parlay, cost $725,000 and broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park earlier this year in his second career start.
"He measured up to what I like in a horse," Crupi said of what attracted him to Vino Rosso. "They bought two horses together at that sale, and they are both good horses. Life's a Parlay got hurt and is on the farm now."
With the Wood victory, Vino Rosso received 100 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, earning the colt a ticket to Churchill Downs. He has won three of five starts and earned $620,500.
Vinno Rosso was produced from the winning Street Cry mare Mythical Bride, a half sister to grade 2 winner and sire Commissioner and to Canadian grade 3 winner Laugh Track, who finished second in the 2013 Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1).
"It was a big weekend," said Crupi, who paired up Viola and Repole. "They're both good clients. That's why I brought them together."
"Viola gives a horse all the time they need," Crupi said. "It makes it a lot easier when you have a client like that, who spends whatever it takes to get a good horse, and then if there are hiccups along the way they will give them time and not worry about it. And that's what makes him successful. Repole is a great owner, too."
Crupi said Vino Rosso is "coming around at the right time," adding that he does not believe the colt liked the going at Tampa Bay Downs where he finished third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) and a fourth in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
But for now, Crupi is making Derby plans.
"They're making me go," the agent said of his clients.