Note: One of a series of profiles on contenders for the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes on June 20. Updates will be provided after morning-line odds and post positions are set on Wednesday, June 17.
By Margaret Ransom
Trainer Patrick Biancone knows a thing or two about getting a good 3-year-old to the big dance — his Lion Heart was a Grade 1 winner at 2 and finished second to Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Sixteen years later, the Frenchman has Sole Volante, a talented son of 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Karakontie. The gelding has a turf-biased pedigree, but Biancone has turned him into one of the better 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail (on dirt). Sole Volante won the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) in February, and then ran second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) in March.
And now he’s headed to the $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 20 off a nice allowance win at Gulfstream Park on June 10. The 1 1/8-mile Belmont – the first leg of the restructured Triple Crown due to the coronavirus pandemic — will be a quick turnaround, but Sole Volante had a nice three-month COVID-19 break after the Tampa Bay Derby, so he’s hardly over-raced or tired.
“He’s a nice horse,” Biancone, who also trains Ete Indien, a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender who runs next in the Blue Grass (G2) on July 11, said. “He’s improving.”
Regular jockey Luca Panici, who missed riding Sole Volante in the Tampa Bay Derby due to injury, agrees.
“He’s a horse that’s like a human,” Panici said. “His brain is fabulous.
“I’ve known him from the beginning, and he’s just a wonderful horse to ride. I have to thank all the connections to give me this huge opportunity. He’s just a really great horse.”
Trainer: Patrick Biancone
Owner: Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone
Jockey: Luca Panici
Career record: 6-4-1-1
Career earnings: $293,310
Pedigree: Karakontie–Light Blow, by Kingmambo
Running style: Late-running closer
“Deep closer 3-for-5, all in the money; never tried 9 furlongs but belongs underneath in exotics.’’ – Ed McNamara
“Looms the obvious second choice after a late decision to run following allowance win at Gulfstream Park on June 10 … Winner of the Sam F. Davis on dirt, and last fall’s Pulpit Stakes on turf comes from far back and never runs a bad race.” – Noel Michaels
Notes: Colt is co-owned by the trainer’s daughter, Andie, in a partnership with Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, who famously campaigned 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Mucho Macho Man and last year’s Jim Dandy (G2) winner Tax … Flaxman Holdings homebred can certainly be considered a bargain for his current owners as he brought just $6,000 as a Keeneland September yearling in 2018 and only $20,000 as an Ocala Breeders’ Sales 2-year-old in training 14 months ago … Biancone had his left kidney removed in March due to cancer, and was pronounced cancer-free a week later.
|1||Tap It To Win||6-1||John R. Velazquez||Mark E. Casse|
|2||Sole Volante||9-2||Luca Panici||Patrick L. Biancone|
|3||Max Player||15-1||Joel Rosario||Linda Rice|
|4||Modernist||15-1||Junior Alvarado||William I. Mott|
|5||Farmington Road||15-1||Javier Castellano||Todd A. Pletcher|
|6||Fore Left||30-1||Jose Ortiz||Doug O’Neill|
|7||Jungle Runner||50-1||Reylu Gutierrez||Steven M. Asmussen|
|8||Tiz The Law||6-5||Manny Franco||Barclay Tagg|
|9||Dr Post||5-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Todd A. Pletcher|
|10||Pneumatic||8-1||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||Steven M. Asmussen|
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.
After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.
In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”
Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.