Sole Volante wins the Sam F. Davis Stakes
Sole Volante, the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes winner here on Feb. 8, is expected to head the field for next Saturday’s Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, the main event on a stakes-laden afternoon of Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs.
The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby is a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race, with the first four finishers awarded points on a 50-20-10-5 scale toward qualifying for a spot in the Run for the Roses starting gate on May 2 at Churchill Downs.
The 3-year-old gelding Sole Volante, whose name is Italian for “Flying Sun,” improved to 3-for-4 with his Sam F. Davis score, punctuated by a powerful move around the far turn and a strong finish that resulted in a 2 ½-length victory from previously unbeaten Independence Hall. Sole Volante is currently ranked No. 2 on racing journalist Steve Haskin’s “Derby Dozen” Presented by Shadwell Farm list of top Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve prospects.
Sole Volante will be ridden in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby by Florent Geroux, replacing Sam F. Davis-winning jockey Luca Panici, who suffered a broken collarbone in a fall at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 21.
The 40th edition of the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, run on the main track at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth, is one of five stakes on the Festival Day card, which offers a cool $1-million in stakes purse money.
Sole Volante’s trainer, Patrick Biancone, said after the Sam F. Davis he was between the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and the Grade II TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby on March 21 at Fair Grounds for Sole Volante’s next start. After Sole Volante bounced back in strong fettle from the Sam F. Davis, the decision was made to return to the Oldsmar oval.
Sole Volante, who is owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing in partnership with Biancone’s daughter and assistant, Andie Biancone, and Limelight Stables Corp., worked out 7 furlongs Wednesday in 1:23 on the turf at Biancone’s Palm Meadows Training Center base in Boynton Beach on Florida’s east coast, with Geroux flying in from New Orleans for that assignment.
“After he won (the Sam F. Davis), we needed to see how he recovered and then take the best route possible,” Biancone said this morning. “So we chose to come back to Tampa because, No. 1, he likes the track; No. 2, the people in Tampa are very nice; and No. 3, he is in good form and he improved in his last race.”
With Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve qualifying points at stake, there will be no shortage of challengers to the son of Karakontie-Light Blow, by Kingmambo. The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby may have picked up another quality entrant in the Florida-bred colt Chance It, a late scratch from today’s Grade II Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream because of concerns about starting from the No. 12 post.
Chance It, who is owned by Shooting Star Thoroughbreds and trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., is 4-for-6 lifetime with three stakes victories, including the Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Jan. 4 at Gulfstream in his most recent start.
Other probable Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby runners as of today include the Godolphin homebred Spa City, a son of 2007 Tampa Bay Derby and Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, from the barn of Kiaran McLaughlin; Louisiana-bred stakes-winning colt Relentless Dancer, trained by Michael Maker; Maker’s Mo Mosa, a recent maiden special weight winner at Turfway Park; Letmeno, trained by Ian Wilkes; and King Guillermo, from the barn of Juan Carlos Avila.
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