Sole Volante, a proverbial dark horse, has added his name to the Kentucky Derby futures board by way of a strong stretch run at last week’s Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Downs in Florida.

Sole Volante at 2020 Sam F Davis Stakes
Sole Volante surprised the competition and proved he could be a Kentucky Derby contender with a strong finish at last week’s Sam F. Davis stakes. (Image:

Who is Sole Volante and where did he come from?

A strong stretch run that overtook favorite Independence Hall in last week’s Davis Stakes raised his profile up to No. 7 on the futures board at odds of 18/1 to capture the Kentucky Derby.

Independence Hall, meanwhile, who went off at 7/10 in the Davis, dropped to the No. 8 spot at 20/1 in Bovada’s latest future odds. Those odds give bettors outside Nevada an alternative to William Hill’s more conservative line, which is only available in Nevada.

Racking Up Points

A $20,000 gelding by way of Karakontie, Sole Volante’s 2 ½-length victory over Independence Hall gives him 10 Derby Qualifying Points to go with three wins in his four races, two of which came on turf. His lone miss was a third in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park, which was his first trip on dirt.

“We’re not going to buy the hat, but we’re going to look for it,” Sole Volante’s trainer, Patrick Biancone quipped, referring to a Kentucky Derby spot.

Biancone said the next step on that road for Sole Volante is either the March 7 Tampa Bay Derby or the March 21 Louisiana Derby. Both are Grade 2 races.

As Independence Hall regroups after his first loss, Nadal has taken over the top spot on Bovada’s futures list after capturing the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita. This victory was notable not only for where Nadal’s odds are now (8/1), but for the fact it wasn’t a Derby prep race because it went only seven furlongs.

Future Odds to Win the 2020 Kentucky Derby

1. Nadal (8/1)
2. Tiz the Law (10/1)
3. Dennis’ Moment (12/1)
4. Authentic (16/1)
Maxfield (16/1)
Thousand Words (16/1)
7. Sole Volante (18/1)
8. Independence Hall (20/1)
9. Enforceable (22/1)
Honor A.P. (22/1)

source: Bovada Feb. 10

That didn’t stop Nadal’s trainer, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, from turning Nadal and jockey Joel Rosario loose for a three-quarter length victory over Ginobli, who nosed ahead of Nadal down the stretch, before Nadal regained control. Fast Enough was third and Storm the Court – a popular choice after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 45/1 in November – was a disappointing fourth.

“I told Joel, ‘Don’t get cute. Just go.’ We can rate him some other day,” said Baffert, who indicated Nadal would run next at the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park March 14. “They took it to him, but if we’re gonna get beat, get beat. I trained him light for this, so this is my serious work.”

Raising Stakes

This week’s marquee Derby prep is the Grade 2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana, which is the first of the Derby preps to offer 50 qualifying points to the winner and 20 to the runner-up. It features a novelty element in that the Risen Star is two races split into two divisions, both of which provide the full points allotment.

Other preps include Saturday’s El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Park in Berkeley and Monday’s Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Both offer 10 points to the winners.