Record-setting day at Oldsmar oval highlighted by powerhouse Sam F. Davis performance, "home-team" triumphs.
Before last year’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training, trainer Patrick Biancone told his daughter Andie he would buy her a horse for her 22nd birthday if he could find one for $22,000.
Biancone purchased a son of Karakontie-Light Blow, by Kingmambo, for $20,000. Now a 3-year-old gelding, Sole Volante paid the Biancones and their partners back in handsome fashion today at Tampa Bay Downs, upsetting Independence Hall by 2 ½ lengths in the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes.
“We love him a lot,” trainer Biancone said after Sole Volante raced the mile-and-a-sixteenth in 1:42.60, .16 seconds off the stakes record. “He’s fantastic on the turf (2-for-2, including a victory in the Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream) and in America, the life is the dirt, so I ran him in a sprint race on the dirt at Gulfstream just to see if he could handle it and let him take some kickback.” He tired late in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Jan. 4 at Gulfstream, finishing third, but displayed no fatigue today.
Here is the video replay of the 40th edition of the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes:
Sole Volante’s $13.60 payoff was the lowest of the last eight races on the card, and the rash of upsets created a late Pick-5 payoff of $435,029.40 to one winning bettor. The combination was 3-1-3-2-12.
It was a record-setting day at Tampa Bay Downs, with the handle of $11,092,482 a 16.5-percent increase from the previous high on a Sam F. Davis card.
Today’s other stakes winners included Jehozacat ($35.60) in the Grade III, $175,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes; Admiralty Pier ($44) in the Grade III, $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes on the turf; and Lucrezia ($13.80) in the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes.
In the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, “he did everything perfectly but ran a little bit early that day and struggled a little the last 1/16,” Biancone said. “Today I said to (jockey) Luca (Panici), let him relax and run the last 3/8-mile and that’s what he did. This horse has a lot of stamina, but nothing is cast in stone. So we’ll see how he comes back and how he progresses. We have plenty of races to choose from – maybe we’ll come back here in a month (for the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby).”
Panici said he knew he was a winner when he asked Sole Volante for his best on the far turn. “We knew from the beginning he’s a good horse. He’s very intelligent and when you ask him something he’s a quick learner,” Panici said. “When he took off, I never had a doubt (he would catch Independence Hall).”
Sole Volante, with Luca Panici aboard, runs his foes off their feet in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes (courtesy SV Photography)
The Sam F. Davis is a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race, with Sole Volante picking up 10 points and Independence Hall securing four.
Michael Trombetta, the trainer of Independence Hall, planned to watch the replay and see how his colt came out of the race before committing to a plan of action. The defeat was his first in four starts.
“Jose (Ortiz) said his tongue tie came loose in the post parade, but I’m not saying that as an excuse. It’s an inconvenience and I’m going to have to watch the replay and take it all in,” Trombetta said. “He was a little excitable (in the paddock) but he wasn’t terrible, so we’ll see.”
Sole Volante, which is Italian for flying sun, is owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, which controls 60 percent of the horse. Andie Biancone and Limelight Stables Corp. are 20-percent owners.
Ajaaweed was far back in third, followed by Tiz Rye Time.
Hometown connections were prominent in the other stakes races, with trainer Arnaud Delacour and jockey Daniel Centeno combining on two victories. Centeno, the six-time Tampa Bay Downs riding champion, rode four winners on the day.
Tampa Bay Downs jockey Samy Camacho won the Grade III Tampa Bay Stakes on 5-year-old gelding Admiralty Pier by a nose from Devamani, with March to the Arch a head back in third. After a long look, the stewards disallowed a claim of foul by Tyler Gaffalione, the rider of March to the Arch, against Admiralty Pier.
Delacour and Centeno won the Lambholm South Endeavour with the 5-year-old mare Jehozacat, who had won the Wayward Lass Stakes here on the dirt on Jan. 18 in her previous start. Centeno was able to control the pace throughout slow early fractions of 24.73 seconds for the quarter-mile and 48.97 for the half, and Jehozacat held off Altea by a neck to triumph in 1:42.44.
Andina Del Sur, the 2018 Grade III Florida Oaks winner, finished third, followed by the 1-5 favorite, Got Stormy, who failed to fire her trademark kick.
The victory was the second in a row for Delacour in the Lambholm South Endeavour, having won the race last year with Hawksmoor – like Jehozacat, owned by the Lael Stables of Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who also bred Jehozacat.
Jehozacat (inside) holds off Altea, giving trainer Arnaud Delacour his second consecutive Grade III Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes victory (courtesy SV Photography)
“Graded races are not easy to win and we don’t take them for granted,” Delacour said. “Today the strategy was to go to the front and let her do her thing because there was not much pace in the race. Daniel does a great job. He knows that track so well and is so confident about his pace.”
Centeno sported a wide smile entering the winner’s circle on the daughter of Tapit-Precious Kitten, by Catienus, who he also rode in the Wayward Lass. “When Arnaud told me this morning the other speed in the race (Dynatail) was scratched, I said that is going to set up everything perfect for us. I was going to be by myself on the lead, and that’s how it worked out and I rode her all the way to the wire,” he said.
“She was getting a little tired at the end, but she’s a nice mare and has been improving every race, and she handles both dirt and turf.”
Delacour and Centeno returned to the winner’s circle after the Suncoast Stakes, a “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points race. Their 3-year-old filly Lucrezia, who had won the Sandpiper Stakes on Dec. 7 in her previous race but had never raced around two turns, appeared to find the mile-and-40-yard distance to her liking, taking over from Two Sixty heading into the far turn and speeding off to a 5-length victory from Turtle Trax. Motu finished third and Comical was fourth.
Lucrezia’s time was a brisk 1:39.99, .63 seconds off the stakes record. The daughter of Into Mischief-Verdana Bold, by Rahy, is owned in partnership by Beverly S. Anderson and Edward A. Seltzer, who bred her with Krista Seltzer.
Jockey Daniel Centeno is able to gear down Lucrezia late in her dominant Suncoast Stakes victory (courtesy SV Photography)
“There was a question mark about her ability to go a little farther than what she has before, and obviously she showed she can do it,” Delacour said. “She’s won on turf and she’s won sprinting, so we have a lot of options with her and it’s a fun place to be.
“We’ll take things one race at a time. We’re very proud of her.”
Centeno said he was surprised at Lucrezia’s ability to maintain her energy throughout the race.
“She broke very sharp and was a little aggressive going into the first turn, and I tried to get her to relax because I didn’t want to go head-to-head with (Two Sixty),” the jockey said. “I put her on the outside (inside the 3/8-mile pole) and she switched leads and when I asked her a little bit, she like just exploded.
“When I looked at the screen in the stretch, she had opened up and she won easy,” he said.
There was nothing easy about Admiralty Pier’s victory in the Tampa Bay Stakes for owners Hoolie Racing Stable and Bruce Lunsford and trainer Barbara Minshall. Camacho controlled the pace up front, but Devamani and March to the Arch came with strong runs. Admiralty Pier dropped his head on the wire first, giving Camacho his first graded-stakes victory.
Camacho fell off Admiralty Pier when the horse spooked from a flock of birds after crossing back onto the dirt track and was a little sore, but gratified. He had won on Admiralty Pier in his previous start, an allowance/optional claiming event here that was taken off the turf on Dec. 29.
Even if you bet on someone else, it was hard not to feel good for jockey Samy Camacho after his stirring win on Admiralty Pier in the Grade III Tampa Bay Stakes (courtesy SV Photography)
“The race went so perfect,” Camacho said. “Barbara told me in the paddock to try to break on top and try to let him be comfortable and slow things down the first part and make your race. I’m so happy for the owners and the trainer, and thanks to my family and thanks to God. When I came back to the winner’s circle, the horse saw some birds and got scared. I went down and I’m dirty, but I’m good.”
Minshall admitted to several nervous moments as the stewards considered Gaffalione’s claim. One thing appears certain: she will keep the son of English Channel-Full Steam Ahead, by Kitten’s Joy, going long for the immediate future.
“He ran this race last year (fifth, beaten only a length) and then had a little bit of time off, some minor stuff. Then we started running him a little bit shorter and it didn’t work out,” she said. “I think he’s been running in high-class competition and he showed a lot of determination today. It was nervous waiting out (the objection), and I’m so glad Samy is OK because he rode him great.”
Around the oval. Thoroughbred racing continues Sunday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:45 p.m. Sunday is also the first Kids & Family Day celebration of the meeting, with games, pony rides, bounce houses and other family-themed events in the Backyard Picnic Area just north of the paddock.
Tampa Bay Downs races each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through May 3, with the exception of Easter Sunday, April 12, when the track is closed.
Otherwise, Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.