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With the Kentucky Derby (G1) still several weeks away, we are going to spend the time analyzing the pedigree for some of the top contenders.
This week’s subject: Sole Volante
With a career record of 6-4-1-1, Sole Volante has asserted himself as one of the most consistent horses in his class. Fresh off his June 10 win while going 1 mile against optional claiming foes at Gulfstream Park, trainer Patrick Biancone has stated that the Belmont Stakes (G1) will likely be his next start just 10 days later – though travel logistics may force him to miss it in favor of the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) next month.
Currently ranked 14th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, Sole Volante has a total of 30 points earned from winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) and finishing second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Both Kentucky Derby prep races went 1 1/16 miles at Tampa Bay Downs, and while getting the Kentucky Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles does not appear to be a problem for him, many have wondered if he would ultimately be better suited for the turf.
Major career wins: 2013 Prix La Rochette (G3), 2013 Watar Prix Jean Luc Lagardere-Grand Criterium (G1), 2014 Poule d’Essai des Poulains-French Two Thousand Guineas G1), 2014 Breeder’s Cup Mile (G1).
Making 10 of his 12 career starts across the pond, Karakontie is perhaps most remembered by North American fans for pulling off a huge upset in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at 30/1 odds, beating the eventual 2016 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Tourist.
Karakontie finished his career with a record of 12-5-2-1 and nearly $2 million in purses, and while he only raced over a mile once in his career (finishing eighth in the 2014 Prix Du Jockey Glub [G1]), both sides of his pedigree suggest that he could have gone longer and that running well on dirt was not out of the question.
Karakontie’s grandsire is Storm Cat, a major North American bloodline contributor over the past 25 years. While Storm Cat himself never sired a Kentucky Derby winner, he did produce G1 winners on both dirt and turf and while going at least 1 1/8 miles.
That group includes Tabasco Cat, who won the 1991 Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1), and Giant’s Causeway, who nearly became a G1 winner on both turf and dirt when finishing second in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
Karakontie’s dam, Sun is Up, is by the 1989 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Sunday Silence, who was sold to a Japanese breeder upon retirement and became the far eastern country’s version of Storm Cat. Most of Sunday Silence’s progeny had careers on turf (the main surface in Japan), but his bloodline has shown the ability to run well on dirt and in North America; Yoshida, for example, won the Woodward Stakes (G1) on dirt a year after taking the Old Forester Turf Classic Stakes (G1).
Major career wins: None
Light Blow was not much of a runner, posting a record of 5-1-1-0 and only $5,931 earned, but she has been successful as a broodmare. Four of her seven foals have made the starting gate, with three finding the winner’s circle. Additionally, two won graded stakes on the dirt; along with Sole Volante, Explode won last year’s Canadian Derby (G3).
Her sire, Kingmambo spent his career running on the turf, but he sired Lemon Drop Kid, a Grade 1 winner at ages 2, 3, and 4, including the 1999 Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes. Her grandsire is the remarkable Mr. Prospector, who I covered more in-depth when analyzing the Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Charlatan’s pedigree.
Sole Volante is bred top to bottom to handle 1 1/4 miles, so the real question is if he is talented enough. He continues to get better with each start, but I need to see more out of him before consider him to be a serious threat to win on the first Saturday in September. Until them, limit to using him underneath on your exacta, trifecta, and superfecta tickets.
Let me know what you think!
Vinny Blond is a New York-based handicapper who is one half of Real Dynasty Picks. Follow him on Twitter @PicksByDynasty.
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