HALLANDALE BEACH, FL—Antonio Sano saddled his 949th winner in the United States Sept. 9 at Gulfstream Park, passing the late South Florida trainer Manny Azpurua to become the all-time leading Venezuelan trainer in America.

The 60-year-old trainer is hardly ready to rest on his many laurels, however. He has too much to look forward to.

“Manny Azpurua was an excellent trainer here and in Venezuela,” said Sano, who ventured to South Florida in 2009 after saddling more than 3,000 winners in Venezuela. “It’s a new record for me, but I’m trying to continue to win more races.”

Sano has returned to South Florida this week from Lexington, Ky., where he purchased six yearlings at the Keeneland September sale, hoping to add to his reputation as a horseman with a keen eye for a bargain. The 60-year-old trainer most notably purchased a son of Dialed In for $16,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September Sale, and multiple graded-stakes winner Gunnevera went on to earn $5,561,800 million in 2016-2019.

Gunnevera has since made a successful second career as a Florida stallion at Pleasant Acres Stallions in Morriston with his first crop yearling set to go to auction this year.

Meanwhile, Sano is staying busy while setting sights on achieving more immediate goals with Il Miracolo and Dancing Groom.

Eduardo Soto’s Il Miracolo is scheduled to meet 10 other 3-year-olds in Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (Grade 1) at Parx. The son of Gun Runner prepped for the Pennsylvania Derby with a three-length victory at Parx in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones on Aug. 22.

“He’s training very well for this race. It’s a different race with different horses but my horse is a confident horse,” Sano said. “He is getting better and better.”

Sano also saddled Il Miracolo, a $70,000 purchase out of the de Meric Sales consignment at the 2022 Ocala Breeders’ Sales June sale, to a second-place finish behind Scotland in the $130,950 Curlin at Saratoga on July 31.

Il Miracolo is rated at 8-1 on the morning line in a field headlined by the Bob Baffert-trained Reincarnate, the 3-1 morning-line favorite. Bill Mott-trained Scotland is rated at 5-2.

Eduardo Soto’s Dancing Groom, an impressive maiden special weight winner at Saratoga last time out, is being pointed toward the Grade 1 Champagne to be run Oct. 7 during the Belmont at Big A meet at Aqueduct. The son of Vino Rosso, who was purchased for $60,000 out of the Golden Rock Thoroughbreds consignment at the OBS March sale, debuted with a sixth-place finish behind winner Valentine Candy in a six-furlong maiden special weight race July 22 at Saratoga before graduating in his next start in a mile maiden special weight race taken off the turf. Dancing Groom rated off the pace before making a four-wide sweep to the lead heading into the stretch and drawing off to a five-length score.

“I saw the horse for long distance. I started him at six furlongs the first time. His second race at a mile, the horse won very easy,” Sano said. “His next race will be the Champagne.”

While branching out, Sano continues to make his presence felt at Gulfstream Park, where he saddled Magic Stable’s Papeete, a 2-year-old son of Not This Time purchased for $30,000 at the 2022 Keeneland September sale, for a promising two-and-three-quarter-length victory last month.

Return to Sept. 21 issue of Wire to Wire