Sole Volante, Chance It Lead Large Field in Tampa Bay Derby
Tampa Bay Dozen
A field of 12 headed by Sole Volante will compete for the winner’s share of a $400,000 purse in the 40th edition of the Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
Sole Volante, the lone gelding in the field, drew the 7 post position for the mile-and-a-sixteenth Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on the main dirt track and has been established as the 2-1 morning-line wagering favorite, based on his impressive victory at the track on Feb. 8 in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes.
Now 3-for-4 in his career, Sole Volante is owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone and Limelight Stables Corp. and trained by Patrick Biancone. Florent Geroux will be the jockey, replacing Sam F. Davis-winning rider Luca Panici, who suffered a fractured collarbone in a fall on Feb. 21.
The second choice at 5-2 is Chance It, a Florida-bred colt owned by Shooting Star Thoroughbreds and trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr. He will break from the No. 4 post under jockey Paco Lopez.
Chance It is 4-for-6 with three stakes victories, including a triumph in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Jan. 4 at Gulfstream Park in which he defeated Sole Volante. Chance It was scratched from last Saturday’s Grade II Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream because of concerns about breaking from the extreme outside No. 11 post position and the short run to the first turn.
Although Sole Volante and Chance It possess excellent credentials, the high stakes involved virtually ensured a large Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby field.
Todd Pletcher, who has trained five Tampa Bay Derby winners, including three in a row from 2015-2017, will send out three lightly-raced starters: maiden winners Market Analysis and Texas Swing along with Unrighteous, who is still a maiden.
Market Analysis, who is owned by WinStar Farm and China Horse Club International, won his lone start going seven furlongs on Jan. 25 at Gulfstream.
Texas Swing, owned by Harrell Ventures, won his second career start, a mile-and-40-yard maiden special weight contest on the Feb. 8 Sam F. Davis Stakes undercard.
Unrighteous, a homebred colt racing for Calumet Farm, has a fourth and a second in two starts at Gulfstream.
Pletcher’s five Tampa Bay Derby winners are Limehouse (2004), Verrazano (2013), Carpe Diem (2015), Destin (2016) and Tapwrit (2017). He has won the Kentucky Derby twice, both times with horses that raced at Tampa Bay Downs. In 2010, his Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby after finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby, and in 2017, Pletcher sent eventual Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming to Tampa to break his maiden on Jan. 25.
The only other horse to win the Kentucky Derby after competing at Tampa Bay Downs was Street Sense, who won both the Oldsmar showcase and the Kentucky Derby in 2007.
Here is the full Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby field in post position order, followed by each horse’s trainer and jockey:
1. Texas Swing, Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano
2. Spa City, Kiaran McLaughlin, Daniel Centeno
3. Relentless Dancer, Michael Maker, Antonio Gallardo
4. Chance It, Saffie Joseph, Jr., Paco Lopez
5. Market Analysis, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez
6. Mo Mosa, Michael Maker, Pablo Morales
7. Sole Volante, Patrick Biancone, Florent Geroux
8. Letmeno, Ian Wilkes, Chris Landeros
9. Unrighteous, Todd Pletcher, Joe Bravo
10. Bye Bye Melvin, H. Graham Motion, Julien Leparoux
11. King Guillermo, Juan Carlos Avila, Samy Camacho
12. Tons of Gold, Alexis Delgado, Angel Suarez
The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby is one of five stakes, four graded, on a Festival Day card offering $1-million in stakes purse money alone. It is also a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race, awarding qualifying points for the Run for the Roses on May 2 to the first four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 scale.
Also on Saturday’s 12-race card, which begins at 12:15 p.m., are the Grade II, $225,000 Hillsborough Stakes, for fillies and mares 4-years-old-and-upward, at a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf; the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies, at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf; the Grade III, $100,000 Challenger Stakes, for horses 4-and-upward, at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track; and the $75,000 Columbia Stakes, for 3-year-olds racing a mile on the turf.
The five stakes will be run consecutively, comprising a Festival Day Pick-5 wagering offering, with the Columbia as the seventh race, followed in order by the Challenger, the Hillsborough, the Florida Oaks and the Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby.