Piedi Bianchi: Making Indiana Proud
There was always something special about Piedi Bianchi - everyone could see it from the moment she was born for breeders Deann & Greg Baer DVM in Indiana. The Baers had paired the stakes placed mare named Adore You (Tactical Cat) with Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Overanalyze. This breeding created a pedigree decorated with names like Seattle Slew, Damascus, Mr. Prospector, Secretariat, and more - Piedi Bianchi was destined to be great.
When Piedi Bianchi was just a few weeks old, she traveled to GoodWin Farm near Paris, Kentucky where she stayed until she was about five or six months old. “I get all of Greg and Deann’s foals when they are about 10 to 14 days old,” Jay Goodwin explained. “Some you notice when they get off the trailer, some get a little better before they leave, and some are freaks when they get off the trailer and when they get back on the trailer to leave. Piedi was the latter.”
Piedi Bianchi went through the sales ring three times before she made her racing debut; she was first sold as a weanling for $60k at the Keeneland November Sale, then for $80k as a yearling at the Keeneland September Sale, and was finally picked up by Doug & Dennis O'Neill for another $80k at the OBS Two-Year Olds in Training Sale.
Dennis O’Neill, the older brother of trainer Doug O’Neill, is known as something of a “bloodstock wizard”. He’s selected horses like Goldencents as well as two Kentucky Derby winners: I’ll Have Another (2012) and Nyquist (2016).
The O’Neills had purchased the daughter of Overanalyze for Nice Guy Stables and Jay Oringer. While the filly was still in her early training, Oringer showed a photo of his new horse to his friend and one of Piedi’s future co-owners Mike Maturo. Upon seeing this photo of the gorgeous grey filly, Maturo said she should be named “Piedi Bianchi”, which translates to “white feet” in Italian.
No one knew it at the time, but that "white-footed" filly was going to take them on the ride of a lifetime.
Two-Year Old Season (2017):
Piedi Bianchi was shipped from the OBS sale in Florida to California to begin her race training with Doug O’Neill. The filly first appeared in the races on July 6th, 2017 at Los Alamitos and finished second. She was much more successful in her next start, this time at Del Mar; she came flying down the stretch to win by about 1 ¼ lengths. The win was so impressive that her connections decided to step her way up in class and pay the supplemental fee for the Del Mar Debutante (G1), where she would be facing tough competitors like Just A Smidge and Spectator. The betting public wasn't so convinced that Piedi Bianchi should be running at the Grade 1 level and made her one of the longest shots on the board. Nevertheless, Piedi Bianchi proved that she was worthy of running in their company that day; she put her heart into the stretch run, chasing Moonshine Memories and shrinking the distance between them with every stride. Unfortunately, she didn’t have enough time to catch Moonshine Memories and finished second by a ½ length.
"That was a good late run from her," Piedi Bianchi's jockey Mario Gutierrez said after the race. "She's getting better—improving all the time."
[Video: Watch Piedi Bianchi (#7) finish 2nd in the Del Mar Debutante (G1)]
Though Piedi Bianchi hadn’t won her Grade 1 debut, it was still a credible enough performance for her connections to send her to the Chandelier Stakes (G1) next out. Moonshine Memories was also entered in this race, which meant Piedi Bianchi was going to have another shot at defeating her. However, a new face was also entered into the Chandelier: an impressive maiden winner named Alluring Star.
The betting public ranked Alluring Star as their favorite. Moonshine Memories was the second-choice and Piedi Bianchi was the third.
Once again, the ever tough and talented Moonshine Memories was able to turn away Alluring Star and won the race by about three lengths. Piedi Bianchi never gave up in the stretch and ended up finishing third, just a neck behind Alluring Star.
[Video: Watch Piedi Bianchi (#7) finish third in her second Grade 1 attempt]
Piedi’s two on-the-board finishes in Grade 1 company was enough to earn her a spot in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar. Despite her good performances, Piedi was still overlooked by the public who sent her off at odds of 17-1.
Unfortunately, the Overanalyze filly was wide throughout the premier race for two year old fillies and then got caught in some traffic troubles in the stretch and finished 5th. The loss was definitely disappointing for her connections, but their faith in her wasn’t lost. They took Piedi Bianchi back to Los Alamitos one month later for the Starlet Stakes (G1), in which she finished 3rd.
Piedi Bianchi only won one race as a two-year old, but she hit the board in three Grade 1 races and even finished in the top five in the most prestigious race for two-year old fillies in the country. Her record was definitely nothing to scoff at.
Three-Year Old Season (2018):
The filly’s owners Nice Guy Stables, Jay Oringer, and Jack Bick are New York based and wanted to bring their filly back to their home state, so they moved her to Todd Pletcher’s barn at Belmont Park. After a long six months away from the races, Piedi Bianchi debuted for Todd Pletcher in an Allowance and finished third.
Pletcher then sent his filly to iconic Saratoga Race Course for the Alabama Stakes (G1), where she finished 6th against the likes of She’s A Julie and Midnight Bisou. She returned to Belmont Park to finish 2nd in another Allowance before making the trip back to her home state of Indiana for the Frances Slocum Stakes.
Her homecoming was met with success: she soared past a talented Indiana-bred mare named Expect Indy in the stretch to win the race with ease. Piedi Bianchi then went home to New York where she finished 4th in an Allowance to round out her three year old season.
Four-Year Old Season & Injury (2019):
After her loss in Allowance company, Piedi Bianchi was loaded onto an airplane and flown to Gulfstream Park for the South Beach Stakes. This time she did even worse, finishing sixth. It was then that Piedi’s connections received news that no horse owner wants to hear: Piedi had bone bruises. This may have explained her performances in her previous two races and was an injury that threatened her entire career.
“They told me to retire her,” owner Jay Oringer recalled. “One of the partners wanted to breed her right there, but I wouldn’t do it, so I bought him out.”
Oringer knew that his filly was capable of more than she had shown so far and he wasn’t ready to give up on her yet. She was his first horse and is very special to him.
“I had faith in her, so I put her at WinStar Farm for about 7 or 8 months in Kentucky and they put her through water programs and all that stuff,” he continued.
[Video: Piedi Bianchi at WinStar Farm]
Five-Year Old Season (2020):
WinStar’s treatments worked marvelously for Piedi Bianchi; exactly one year to the day of her last race, she returned to the track victoriously in an Allowance race at Aqueduct, this time for trainer Carlos Martin. She was back and ready to prove that was better than ever.
In March of 2020, she stepped back up into stakes class to take on a field of seven fillies and mares in the Correction Stakes. The betting public sent her off as the third choice - the favorite was Kept True and Bridlewood Cat was the second choice.
As soon as the fillies and mares left the gates, Bridlewood Cat felt trouble and was steadied, leaving her in the back of the pack. Piedi Bianchi settled on the outside in fifth, six lengths ahead of Bridlewood Cat. The field reached the far turn in this six furlong sprint quickly and Piedi Bianchi’s jockey Jorge Vargos Jr. knew he wouldn’t have much time to find a spot for his mare on the inside. He pointed Piedi to the outside and she came off the turn wide, but full of momentum.
Piedi began barreling down the stretch, closing the gap between her and Kept True with every stride. She wasn’t alone, however - almost the entire field was bunched together down the stretch. Piedi dug in with all of her might and when the wall of horses crossed the wire, four of them were only separated by noses and necks. Almost every horse in the race had given it their all, but it was Piedi Bianchi’s grey nose that crossed the wire first. "She gave me that last kick when they came to her on the outside,” said Piedi’s jockey Jorge Vargos Jr. “She just dug in and put her head in front."
[Video: Watch Piedi Bianchi (#5) win the Correction Stakes by a nose!]
Piedi Bianchi’s win in the Correction Stakes was an exhilarating way for her to return from injury and was validation for her owner’s decision to bring his beloved mare back to the races. “She’s such a nice horse, very smart,” Oringer said when asked to describe Piedi. “All she wants is that ball. The first thing I tell trainers is ‘she needs that ball’ - all she does is bite that ball!” “One thing, if you put your back to her - she’s done it to me - she will bite you in the back and run to the back of the stall. She thinks it’s a game!”
Though Piedi didn’t perform as well in her next start, finishing 6th in the Harmony Lodge Stakes three months later, she was still brought back to graded company for the Ruffian Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park. There she would be facing another mare who had just returned to the races after a long period of time on the sidelines: champion racehorse Monomoy Girl.
The public doubted Piedi Bianchi’s ability to run well in this race, so she entered the starting gates as the longest shot on the board at odds of 33-1. Though the public were correct when they wagered that she wouldn’t win, she did rally down the center of the stretch to finish third. Finishing third behind a mare who won the Kentucky Oaks, two Breeders’ Cup Distaffs, and two other Grade 1s was not at all a bad look for Piedi Bianchi.
After some bad racing luck in the Perfect Sting Stakes at Saratoga (Piedi stumbled badly at the start), she returned to Indiana Grand. Indiana has become like a second home for Jay Oringer, who loves flying into Indianapolis, enjoying the nice restaurants, and meeting the wonderful people who work or race at Indiana Grand.
[Video: Piedi Bianchi travels from track to track by plane - her owner Jay Oringer treats her like a "queen"]
Piedi Bianchi was first entered into the Merrillville Stakes over six furlongs on the dirt, but finished second as the heavy favorite behind a talented mare named Krunch. She was then entered into the Frances Slocum Stakes for the second time in her career, this time for trainer Cipriano Contreras. Piedi was again the heavy favorite in a field that included talented Indiana bred fillies and mares like Expect Indy, Copper Nickel, Fireball Baby, and Unbridled Class.
Copper Nickel rocketed out to the lead the moment the gates opened, flanked by Unbridled Class to her outside. Piedi Bianchi sat on the outside in fourth, just a neck behind Magical Peapod and a head in front of Expect Indy. The field pretty much remained this way until they reached the far turn - it was then that Piedi Bianchi moved up into third and easily overtook Magical Peapod and Copper Nickel. She was alone at the top of the stretch and began to open up on her rivals. She crossed the wire with her ears pricked, many lengths ahead of Fireball Baby and Expect Indy who were battling for second. She had won her second consecutive Frances Slocum.
[Video: Watch Piedi Bianchi (#10) win the Frances Sloucm Stakes]
During all this time, Piedi Bianchi developed into a fan-favorite racehorse in Indiana and beyond.
“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s exciting for my whole family and a whole group of friends that follow her from our town in Queens, New York,” Jay Oringer said. “She has a lot of fans!”
Not only is she loved by her fans and co-owners, but also by all of the trainers, grooms, and exercise riders who have been a part of her career. “She’s been to so many different trainers and different grooms and they all tell me the same thing after they’re with this horse - she becomes their favorite horse. Everyone falls in love with this horse.”
Following Piedi Bianchi’s win at Indiana Grand, she shipped down to Gulfstream Park for the My Charmer Stakes on the turf. She finished fourth to conclude her five year old season.
Six-Year Old Season & Piedi’s Future (2021):
Piedi Bianchi started her six year old season in the Inside Information Stakes (G2) on Gulfstream Park’s dirt track. It was her first time racing in graded stakes company since the Ruffian Stakes (G2) in New York and the result was the same: Piedi Bianchi finished third after being bumped at the start and struggling to find running room until later in the stretch.
After this race, Piedi was given a well deserved break before re-entering training with Carlos Martin at Belmont Park. She is expected to make her next start in the Vagrancy Handicap on May 8th. If all goes to plan, Jay Oringer wants to bring her back to Indiana Grand for the Peony Stakes on August 25th and Cardinal Stakes on October 6th. The dream? To make it to the 2021 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar. Oringer plans to race this mare for two more years with hopes of her becoming the highest earning Indiana bred of all time - a record currently held by Bucchero, who earned $947,936 in his 31 races. Piedi currently has a bankroll of $601,197, which ranks her third on the list of Indiana-bred females (she’s just $1,000 behind Dreamin Big who ranks second).
Oringer’s love for and success with Piedi has encouraged him to purchase even more racehorses, specifically Indiana breds. “When you buy a horse and it becomes as good as her - and she’s from Indiana - why not get involved in their program?” One of Oringer’s new Indiana-breds is a chestnut filly by Commissioner out of T C B Kiwi’s (Afleet Alex). He purchased her as a yearling in 2019 and she will soon be ready to make her debut at Indiana Grand for trainer Ethan West. She is named “Piedi Amoy” in honor of one of the exercise riders who absolutely fell in love with Piedi Bianchi during her time with Todd Pletcher.
Even if Piedi doesn’t get to the Breeders’ Cup or doesn’t become the highest earning Indiana bred, one thing is for certain: Jay Oringer will love and cherish this mare for the rest of her life.
“She’s six years old now and we’ve had offers, but we’re never gonna sell her,” he said. “We’ll keep her and breed her. She’s part of the family, we could never get rid of her. It doesn’t matter how much people offer us.”
Regardless, Piedi Bianchi’s story is one that can be told time and time again. A mare hailing from the Hoosier state has performed on some of the sport's biggest stages and competed against some of the most talented mares of this time. She returned from a career threatening injury as a five-year old to win stakes races and run competitively in graded stakes.
For that, Piedi Bianchi's name will go down in Indiana racing history.
This article is part of our project #TreasureoftheMidwest. Champions of the Track has partnered with the Indiana Thoroughbred Alliance, Indiana Horsemen's Protection & Benevolent Association, and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino to shine a spotlight on Indiana's vibrant Thoroughbred industry. We will be highlighting the state's farms and successful horses and horsemen through written stories, a YouTube video series, and social media content. Be sure to connect with us on all platforms below so you can keep up with our project: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube