Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby - PICK: # 7 Sole Volante
#7, Sole Volante, Florent Geroux, 2-1
The morning-line favorite will be making his fifth career start (3-0-1) is coming off a solid 2 ½ length win over Independence Hall a month ago in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes here on Feb. 8. That was off a third-place finish to today’s entrant Chance It in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 4. Florent Geroux has the mount for trainer Patrick Biancone. Both teamed up recently to take last Saturday’s Fountain of Youth Stakes by a whopping 8 ½ lengths aboard Ete Indien at Gulfstream Park. I’ve always liked this horse and the jock. No reason to change now.
Verdict: The pick.
#5, Market Analysis, John Velazquez, 8-1
One of three runners in today’s race for trainer Todd Pletcher (No. 1, Texas Swing, Javier Castellano; No. 9, Unrighteous, Joe Bravo), he enters today coming off a debut win in a maiden special weight race by ¾ of a length as the favorite at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25 on the Pegasus Cup undercard. John Velazquez returns for the mount as the horse is making a huge step up in class, but he also has the potential to compete with these. Let’s see how he does.
#4, Chance It, Paco Lopez, 5-2
A late scratch from last Saturday’s Fountain of Youth Stakes due to an outside post, the second-choice morning-line favorite enters today, winning his last two and four of his last five starts, including a win in the Mucho macho man Stakes at Gulfstream Park in his last on Jan. 4. All six of his career starts have been at Gulfstream Park (4-2-0). Paco Lopez is in the saddle (due to regular rider Tyler Gaffalione’s commitment aboard Got Stormy in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita later today) for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. He will be right there at the end and Lopez is awfully sneaky and tactical in races like this. Scary tough.
#9, Unrighteous, Joe Bravo, 20-1
He has had two straight starts in maiden special weight races at Gulfstream Park, highlighted by a runner-up finish on Feb. 8. One of three Todd Pletcher-trained horses in today’s race, the always tough Joe Bravo is in the saddle. Let’s see what they can do with the step up in talent and class.
Verdict: In the mix.
By Lou Monaco