William Schettine’s 3-year-old colt Piscitelli worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 at Palm Meadows on Jan. 15 with jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard for trainer Rick Sacco in preparation for his seasonal debut in the $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 23 at Gulfstream Park.
“He went very well and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12:70,” said Sacco, racing manager and 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 (of 2-year-olds in training), and he bought him (for $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.”
Piscitelli’s last race was the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Santa Anita on Nov. 7, where he finished fourth, beaten only three-quarters of a length by longshot winner Vale of York.
A son of Victory Gallop, Piscitelli also finished fifth in the Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland and third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) last year.
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 eligible for the Holy Bull, and confirmed that Aikenite was on target to start. The son of Yes It's True finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, 1 3/4 lengths behind Piscitelli with some trouble in the stretch.
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 (gr. I) at the Spa in two starts prior to the Keeneland race.