By Gulfstream Press Staff – With the schedules for the 2020 Triple Crown and other major stakes for 3-year-olds finally firming up, trainer Patrick Biancone is stepping up the training programs for Sole Volante and Ete Indien at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
“I gave them an easy time in April. They should be perfectly ready and fresh and happy for the second part of the year,” said Biancone, who had backed off on the training of his graded stakes-winning 3-year-olds due to the disruption of racing at most tracks across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sole Volante, who is being pointed to the June 20 Belmont Stakes (G1), and Ete Indien, who is a candidate for the July 16 Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park, have worked in company twice, breezing an easy half-mile on dirt May 6 before producing a ‘bullet’ half-mile workout on turf May 17.
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone and Limelight Stables Corp.’s Sol Volante closed from 11th to finish second behind King Guillermo last time out in the March 7 Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
The gelded son of Karakontie, who had beaten King Guillermo in the Nov. 30 Pulpit Stakes over Gulfstream’s turf course, finished third in his dirt debut in the Jan. 3 Mucho Macho Man before tuning up for the Tampa Bay Derby with a victory in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa.
“He’s training fantastic. He’s stronger; he’s put on weight; he’s grown up,” Biancone said. “Everything is good with him.”
Although supremely confident in Sol Volante’s ability to run classic distances, Biancone very much approves of the decision by the New York Racing Association to cut back the traditional 1 ½-mile distance to 1 1/8 miles for the 2020 Belmont Stakes, which will be the first leg of the Triple Crown this year instead of the final leg.
“In a normal year, I would have been delighted to run a mile and a half instead of a mile and an eighth. On the other hand, coming off a layoff, I think it was a good move by NYRA,” Biancone said.
“The mile and a quarter at Belmont is a bad race – you start on the turn. They had no choice but to make it a mile and an eighth. The mile and an eighth is perfect. I think the mile and a half is too challenging for everybody.”
Ete Indien, who is owned by Linda Shanahan, Sanford Bacon, Dream With Me Stable Inc., D P Racing LLC, Horse France America and Biancone, most recently finished third behind Tiz the Law after setting the pace in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream March 28.
The son of Summer Front, who also began his career on turf, finished second behind Tiz the Law in the Holy Bull (G3) Feb. 1 in his second dirt start before scoring a dazzling 8 ½-length triumph in the Feb. 29 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream.
“Ete Indien, I’ll wait for the Haskell with him,” Biancone said, ‘but maybe he will have a race before them. I don’t know yet.”