Bucket List Horse Races: The Palio di Siena; Italy’s Oldest Horse Race – Part 2 (UPDATED)

The Piazza del Campo in Siena – Photo Credit: Michael J. Cox

This is the second part of a multi-part series on the historic Palio di Siena. Part One can be accessed HERE

The stage is nearly set for tomorrow’s Palio di Siena. Post time is 7:30 PM local time, which for North American audiences, would be July 2nd 1:30 PM EST, 12:30 PM CST, 11:30 AM MST and 10:30 AM PST. The race will be streamed live on Siena TV which can be found at the following hyperlink: https://www.ilpalio.org/sienatv.htm

The ten best horses have been chosen from trial runs and matched to ten contrada through a draw on the public square (shown below).


The ten contrada selected for this year’s Palio are: Aquila, Bruco, Chiocciola, Civetta, Drago, Giraffa, Onda, Pantera, Selva and Torre. An excellent and informative guide on the contrada can be found by clicking HERE.

The winningest contrada over the Palio’s long 386 year history is Oca with 65 victories. But Oca didn’t make the draw for this race.

For this race group of contrada, the winningest is Chiocciola with 51 wins. However, they have not won the Palio since August 16th 1999. The winningest contrada in the 21st Century for this group of ten is Selva with 4 victories.

There have been four trial runs thus far: Prima Prova, Seconda Prova, Terza Prova and Quarta Prova. The winners were as follows (with hyperlinks to each on YouTube): Prima Prova (Pantera), Seconda Prova (Drago), Terza Prova (Onda) and Quarta Prova (Selva).

The contrada drew the following horses. Note that term Baio in Italian means Bay and Sauro means Chestnut for the distinction in horse coat colors:

Of the ten horses selected for this field, only three have won a Palio before: Civetta’s Porto Alabe (August 2017 & August 2018), Drago’s Remorex (October 2018) and Torre’s Rocco Nice (July 2018).

For those horses who have never won a Palio, three have been runner-up with second place finishes: Bruco’s Solu Tue Due, Aquila’s Renalzos and Chiocciola’s Violenta da Clodia. Note that the latter, Violenta da Clodia, is a 6 year-old Mare.

Jockey assignments can change clear up to the morning of the race. But my early race favorite is the Drago contrada with Remorex.

To get more of a feel for the passion and what the Palio is all about, ESPN produced an excellent documentary below:


Handicapping Advice

The jockey assignments have been confirmed. As I mentioned earlier, my race favorite is the Drago contrada. My second race favorite right now would be Torre. Third would be Civetta.

My odds would go something like this (Horse/Contrada):

  • Rocco Nice – Torre 1/1
  • Remorex – Drago 2/1
  • Sorighittu – Pantera 4/1
  • Porto Alabe – Civetta 4/1
  • Violenta da Clodia – Chiocciola – 8/1
  • Solu Tue Due – Bruco – 10/1
  • The remaining four horses–> 30/1 to 50/1

The Pantera contrada has jockey Luigi Bruschelli nicknamed “Trecciolino”. He is 50 years old and sort of the Mike Smith of Italian horse racing. He has won the Palio 13 times and is considered one of the best jockeys ever: He only needs one more to reach Andrea Degortes in Palio wins. He will be aboard Sorighittu.

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