OLDSMAR, Fla.–A switch from the turf to the dirt, adjustments were made.
A little dirt in his face was hardly an issue.
All of those things were part of the evolution process for Sole Volante, lessons well-learned; one’s that he would use to kick past favorite Independence Hall in winning the 1 1/16-miles Sam F. Davis by 2 ½-lenghts Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. Sole Volante was ridden to victory by Luca Panici.
Sole Volante’s first two starts were on the turf, with his initial bow coming at Gulfstream Park West, and he would score his first stakes win over a firm turf course at Gulfstream Park in the Pulpit Stakes this past Nov. 30.
“He’s a fantastic horse on the turf, and in America, the life is the dirt, we put the turf on the side for a little while,” said Patrick Biancone, Sole Volante’s trainer. “I run him in a sprint race (the Mucho Macho Man) in Gulfstream just to see if he could handle it.”
The bay gelding by Karakontie (JPN), out of the Kingmambo mare Light Blow, is campaigned by the partnership of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone and Limelight Stables Corp.
The Mucho Macho Man, a race where Sole Volante finished third, seemed to provide the perfect platform for progression as the gelding left no doubt, authoritatively taking command en route to his victory.
“I said to Luca, ‘Let him sleep, let him relax, run the last three eighths,’” said Biancone. “That’s what he’s done. He’s a very interesting young horse.”
It was the third time Panici has ridden Sole Volante, having piloted him in his maiden victory, and he was in the irons for his third place finish in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes. Panici had great confidence in Sole Volante’s ability.
“He’s a fantastic horse, he’s a very intelligent horse,” said Panici. “There was a lot of pace, it was fast. I was just waiting for a good time to ask him. I know that he can kick. He’s improving every race.”
Plans had initially called for Sole Volante to ship to the Fair Grounds, contingent on how he came out of the Sam F. Davis, but that’s far from being written in stone, said Biancone. A return to Tampa in March, to run in the Tampa Bay Derby is a distinct possibility for Sole Volante, a horse who possesses a great deal of stamina. Saturday’s victory in the Sam F. Davis has the connections thinking about the first Saturday in May.
“We’ll see how he comes back, we’ll see how he progresses,” said Biancone. “I told my daughter to look for hats, but don’t buy it yet. But what he did today was really good.”
Andie Biancone, the trainer’s daughter has a special connection to the horse.
“I bought the horse for her birthday, last year for her birthday, when she turned 22,” said Biancone. “I said, ‘If this horse makes $22,000, I buy it.’ I bought it for her.”
The successful transition from turf to dirt was showcased in the Sam F. Davis with Sole Volante’s impressive victory.
“The Mucho Macho Man was his first race on the dirt,” said Dean Reeves, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, part-owner of Sole Volante. “It gave him a chance to get a little dirt kicked in his face, to get a feel for the track and that type of thing. I noticed even when we started here, there was a lot of dirt kicked back, and I think that he had that one race under his belt, that he kind of understood what was going on. And then we go out where there was a big space out there, so he kind of got to where he could get going, then he got up a head of steam and closed really well.”
The undefeated Independence Hall, winner of the Grade Three Nashua and the Jerome, was the horse Sole Volante wrested away the lead from, but finished 11 ¼-lengths in front of third place finisher Ajaaweed.
“That’s an impressive horse, Independence Hall,” said Reeves. “He ran a winning race here. Today was our day. I think we’re going to see that horse again, again and again. He’s a class horse with a lot of talent. Both of those horses ran tremendous races today.”
By Ben Baugh