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Piscitelli Readies for Holy Bull

Gulfstream Park
Photo: MEC

William Schettine’s 3-year-old colt Piscitelli worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 at Palm Meadows Friday morning with jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard for trainer Rick Sacco as he prepares for his season debut in next Saturday’s $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

“He went very well and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.70,” said Sacco, racing manager and now private trainer for Schettine. “We wanted Kent (Desormeaux) to get a feel of where he is at this point and the Holy Bull looks like the right place to get him started.

“I brought this horse to Mr. Schettine’s attention as a possible purchase at the OBS April sales (2-year-olds) and he bought him ($60,000),” said Sacco. “My brother (Gregory Sacco) was the trainer last year. After his first two races at Monmouth Park, I took him on the road for the rest of the season for Gregg, but I’ll be the trainer of record this year.”

When last seen under colors, Piscitelli broke on top in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 7 and led the field on a merry chase into the stretch with Desormeaux aboard for the first time, finishing a game fourth, beaten only three-quarters of a length for it all by longshot European raider Vale of York.

A son of 1998 Belmont Stakes winner Victory Gallop, Piscitelli raced on the lead in the Breeders’ Cup after rallying from last of 14 to finish fifth in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland (Oct. 10) in his previous start.  He was also third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) in Chicago (Sept. 5), closing from off the pace.

“Mr. Schettine and I discussed it before the Breeders’ Cup after he drew post 2, and remembering that he showed speed and was right up on the pace in his first race at Monmouth, Kent could elect to use his speed and maybe get clear early in the race, and that’s what happened.”

The field for the one-mile Holy Bull appears to be coming up strong with the list of probable starters also including Robert LaPenta’s Jackson Bend, Lewis Lazzinarro and partners’ Homeboykris, Fox Hill Farm’s Winslow Homer and Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has seven 3-year-olds from his talented stable eligible for the Holy Bull and confirmed Thursday that Aikenite was on target to start.  The son of Yes It’s True finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, 1 ¾ lengths behind Piscitelli with some trouble in the stretch.

A son of Yes It’s True, Aikenite was a $225,000 OBS February 2-year-old sales purchase and finished a close-up second in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.  The winner that day was Noble’s Promise, who beat Aikenite a half-length before going on to finish third in the Breeders’ Cup. Aikenite had won his career debut at Saratoga and finished third in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at the Spa in two starts prior to the Keeneland race.

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