Kentucky Derby contender profile: Sole Volante
A horse like Sole Volante doesn't typically develop into a major contender for the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Sold for just $6,000 as a yearling and for $20,000 as a 2-year-old-in-training, Sole Volante is a gelding bred to excel on grass rather than dirt. But with his eye-catching triumph in the Sam F. Davis (G3) on Feb. 8 at Tampa Bay Downs, Sole Volante has proven he has what it takes to challenge classy dirt horses on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Trained by Patrick Biancone for the partnership of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone, and Limelight Stables, Sole Volante initially followed his breeding with success on grass.
A son of Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Karakontie, out of a mare by French classic winner Kingmambo, Sole Volante debuted in a 7 1/2-furlong turf maiden race Oct. 12 at Gulfstream Park West. He wasn’t expected to win—bettors allowed him to start at 13-1—but Sole Volante unleashed a powerful turn of foot to pull away and score by three lengths.
Sole Volante was just as impressive in the 1-mile Pulpit S. at Gulfstream Park, where he rallied from a dozen lengths behind to post a two-length victory. That win prompted Biancone to try the bay gelding on dirt. Against a competitive field in Gulfstream’s 1-mile Mucho Macho Man S., Sole Volante rallied resolutely to finish third, beaten just 2 1/4 lengths by the well-regarded duo of Chance It and As Seen On Tv.
This encouraging run set the stage for Sole Volante’s breakout performance in the Sam F. Davis. A fast pace provided an ideal setup, as Sole Volante settled 15 1/2 lengths off the lead, while 7-10 favorite Independence Hall stayed close to testing fractions of :23.34 and :46.52. Rounding the far turn, Sole Volante gobbled up ground with a burst of acceleration, and in the homestretch he grinded his way past Independence Hall to prevail by 2 1/2 lengths.
Sole Volante stopped the clock in 1:42.60 for 1 1/16 miles, just 0.16 seconds off the stakes record, and secured 10 qualification points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings. Some will argue Sole Volante received a perfect pace setup, and perhaps that is true. But he also sprinted the final sixteenth of a mile in :06.11 and appeared to be just getting going at the finish line, which is not surprising, considering the bottom half of his pedigree is packed with stamina.
Sole Volante is a half-brother to Explode, who won the 1 1/4-mile Canadian Derby (G3) on dirt at Century Mile. If Sole Volante keeps progressing, he might just one-up his sibling and secure victory in a different Derby—the coveted one on the first Saturday in May.