OLDSMAR, FL – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone, and Limelight Stables Corp.’s Sole Volante swooped to the lead after the early pace fell apart, flying like the wind to victory in Saturday’s $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.

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Breaking from post 2 under Luca Panici as the 5/1 third choice on the tote, Sole Volante was slow into stride early, content to watch others burn up early. Chapalu raced outside Premier Star into the clubhouse turn, with the 3/5 favorite Independence Hall closely tracking from third.

After posting fractions of :23.34, :46.52, and 1:11.79 through the opening 6 furlongs, the top trio was visibly softened and began falling back toward the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Panicia had Sole Volante gearing up for a massive run while running in the two-path through the far turn..

Independence Hall took over the lead near the 1/4 pole, but Sole Volante was quickly gaining on him and soon ranged up by the top of the stretch. Stealing away command close to the 1/16 pole, Sole Volante began pulling away late for the victory.

The Patrick Biancone trainee crossed 2 1/2 lengths the best in a final time of 1:42.60 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.

Credit: SV Photography

“We knew from the beginning he’s a good horse,” Panici said. “He’s very intelligent, and when you ask him something, he’s a quick learner. I asked him about the 3/8 pole and I never had a doubt (that he would catch Independence Hall).”

Though caught and surpassed in the later stages, Independence Hall finished 11 1/4 lengths clear in second under regular rider Jose Ortiz.

“Jose said his tongue tie came loose in the post parade, but I’m not saying that as an excuse,” said trainer Mike Trombetta. “It’s an inconvenience and I’m going to have to watch the replay and take it all in. He broke sharp and he was good, he was a little excitable (in the paddock), but he wasn’t terrible, so we’ll see.”

Ajaaweed rallied from last to neck out Tiz Rye Time for third. No Getting Over Me, Premier Star, and Chapalu completed the order of finish. Albert Park was scratched.

The Sam F. Davis is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Winner earned 10 points for the win, with Second receiving 4 for second, Third 2 for third, and Fourth 1 for fourth.

Sole Volante’s win was his first on the dirt and improved his record to 4-3-0-1, having broken his maiden and taken the Pulpit Stakes over the Gulfstream Park turf course last fall. The 3-year-old gelded son of Karakontie, third last time out in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes while making his dirt debut, has now earned $250,000.

“We love him a lot,” said Patrick Biancone. “He’s fantastic on the turf, and in America, the life is the dirt, so I ran him in a sprint race at Gulfstream just to see if he could handle it and let him take some kickback. He did everything perfectly but ran a little bit early that day and struggled a little the last 1/16. Today, I said to Luca, ‘Let him relax and run the last 3/8,’ and that’s what he did. He’s a very interesting young horse.”

Sole Volante returned $13.60 to win, $4.40 to place, and $2.60 to show. Independence Hall brought back $2.60 to place and $2.10 to show, while Ajaaweed paid $2.40 to show.