It comes just 10 days before the June 20 Belmont S. (G1), but Sole Volante could still use Wednesday’s featured $55,000 allowance for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park as a prep for the year’s first classic.
Winner of the Sam F. Davis (G3) and most recently second in the Mar. 7 Tampa Bay Derby (G2), Sole Volante is one of several notables in the one-turn mile. The field also includes Fountain of Youth (G2) winner and Florida Derby (G1) third Ete Indien, as well as Florida Derby runner-up Shivaree.
“These two horses haven’t run for a long time. I want to see where we are as far as fitness,” said Patrick Biancone, who trains both Sole Volante and Ete Indien.
“Hey, nothing is better than a good prep race. Before we travel a long way, we want to see where we are. I think it will be good for them. Gulfstream Park has been kind enough to provide us with a race that we can run in.”
While Sole Volante has his eye on the Belmont, Ete Indien’s major summer goal before the Kentucky Derby (G1) is the July 16 Haskell (G1) at Monmouth Park. The speedy colt breaks from post 1 and looks the horse to catch if not pressured too wildly by Shivaree.
Shivaree captured a pair of 6-furlong stakes at Gulfstream in November and early January before finishing second in the Swale (G3), Hutcheson, and Florida Derby, the latter at odds of 80-1.
“He got a little bit of a freshening, and he should be ready to go,” said trainer Ralph Nicks of Shivaree, who could wind up in either the July 11 Blue Grass (G2) or Haskell after Wednesday’s race.
Four others were entered in the allowance, though it’s hard to envision any of them toppling the three marquee names, all of whom are presently among the top 20 Kentucky Derby point qualifiers. Ete Indien has 74 points, Shivaree 40, and Sole Volante 30.