Sole Volante made up more than 15 lengths from behind a fast pace and wore down odds-on favorite Independence Hall inside the final furlong to claim the $200,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday.
Awarding Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers, the Davis was contested over 1 1/16 miles on a fast track, and the Patrick Biancone-trained Sole Volante covered the distance in 1:42.60 while registering a 2 1/2-length score. Independence Hall was more than 11 lengths ahead of Ajaaweed, who finished a neck in front of 54-1 chance Tiz Rye Time.
"We knew from the beginning he's a good horse," said winning jockey Luca Panici. "He's very intelligent and when you ask him something he's a quick learner. I asked him about the three-eighths pole and I never had a doubt."
Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone, and Limelight Stables, Sole Volante paid $13.60.
The winner and Tiz Rye Time were earning their first Derby points, while Independence Hall increased his total to 14 following a win in the Jerome S. on New Year's Day. Ajaaweed increased his total to seven points after previously earning points in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) and Remsen (G2).
This was the second career stakes win for Sole Volante, who broke his maiden on the turf by three lengths at Gulfstream Park West in October and followed up with a two-length triumph in the Pulpit S. at Gulfstream on Nov. 30, also on the turf. In his dirt debut last month in the one-mile Mucho Macho Man S. at Gulfstream, Solo Volante finished third to Chance It. Sole Volante has now bankrolled $196,310.
"We love him a lot," said 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 sixteenth.
"Today I said to Luca, let him relax and run the last three-eighths and that's what he did. He's a very interesting young horse."
Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings, Sole Volante last sold at auction for $20,000 at the OBS April juvenile sale. He's a gelded son of Karakontie, upset winner of the 2014 Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), and out of the Kingmambo mare Light Blow, a half-sister to English highweight Shiva and Epsom Oaks (G1) winner Light Shift. The latter produced English highweight Ulysses.
Sole Volante himself is a half-brother to Grade 3 victor Explode.