Entries make final preps for Saturday’s $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot
Only four days remain until Delta Downs’ richest and most important race day of the year. It’s the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot (Gr. III) program on Saturday, November 17, and a stellar group of young horses are making their way to the Bayou State in search bragging rights and a mountain of cold, hard cash. There will be a special early post time on Jackpot Day of 1:15 p.m. CST. The $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot race is scheduled to go off at 4:15 p.m.
Many of the connections that will take part in the nation’s second richest race for 2-year-olds are making their final travel arrangements to get to southwest Louisiana. The journey could prove extremely profitable as the first-place paycheck is $600,000. The winner will also garner 10 points toward a possible starting position in next year’s Kentucky Derby (Gr. I) on the new ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ series developed by Churchill Downs.
Listed below, in order of entry preference by earnings and graded stakes placings, is the latest information from Delta Downs’ racing office regarding arrival plans and final preparations for those horses pre-entered and expected to go postward on Saturday afternoon.
Bern Identity: The winner of this year’s Sanford Stakes (Gr. II) at Saratoga has been stabled locally since his rousing three-length victory in the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs on October 20. The Kelly Breen trainee recorded his final workout for the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot last weekend when he breezed a half-mile in 48.20 over a fast track on Saturday morning. The clocking was the fastest of 65 at that distance. Bern Identity will enter the big race as the top earner in the field with a total of $426,000 in his career bankroll.
Hightail: The D. Wayne Lukas trainee will be the first $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot starter for the Hall of Fame conditioner and is expected to fly from Lexington, Kentucky to Houston, Texas on Wednesday morning before vanning to Delta Downs the same day. The colt by Mineshaft breezed a half mile over a muddy surface at Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning in 50.80. Hightail will also mark the first Breeder’s Cup Champion to ever start in the 1 1/16-mile showdown.
Know More: This year’s Best Pal Stakes (Gr. II) hero and runner-up in the Del Mar Futurity (Gr. I) and Frontrunner Stakes (Gr. I) is expected to arrive by flight into Houston before vanning to Delta Downs Wednesday. The J. Paul Reddam owned and Doug O’Neill trained colt will be piloted by jockey Mario Gutierrez. Those are the same connections that won the roses at Churchill Downs after I’ll Have Another’s victory in this year’s Kentucky Derby.
Goldencents: The runner-up to Shanghai Bobby in the Champagne Stakes (Gr. I), who is also conditioned by Doug O’Neill, will arrive with his stablemate Know More and Tree of Life from Southern California via Houston Wednesday. The Kentucky-bred runner will enter Saturday’s race as the least experienced horse in the field with only two starts under his belt. His lone win came at Del Mar in September while making his career debut in maiden company.
Itsmyluckyday: The son of 2007 Champion Older Male Lawyer Ron arrived at Delta Downs by van ride on Tuesday from his home base of south Florida. The Edward Plesa, Jr. trainee has never finished worse than second in five career starts, which includes victories in Foolish Pleasure Stakes and the Fasig Tipton Dash, both at Calder Race Course. The Calder-to-Delta route has worked twice in the past as 2008 winner Big Drama and 2010 hero Gourmet Dinner each prepped at the Miami, Florida oval before coming to Vinton.
Central Banker: The Albert Stall, Jr. trainee is expected to take a van ride to Delta Downs from Fair Grounds in New Orleans on Saturday morning before the biggest test of his career. The son of champion sprinter Speightstown has the distinction of being the first horse ever to be supplemented to the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot race. Central Banker also holds the distinction of beating Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Hightail. The pair squared off in a five furlong maiden race over the turf at Churchill Downs in late August. Central Banker won that showdown over his $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot rival by a neck.
Tree of Life: The property of West Point Thoroughbreds LLC will take the same journey to Delta Downs as fellow Southern California invaders Know More and Goldencents through Houston via flight and van on Wednesday. Tree of Life will mark the first starter in the Jackpot for conditioner Craig Dollase, whose trainees have earned over $31 million. Dollase is the son of renowned trainer Wally Dollase and the brother of Aimee, who also trains racehorses for a living.
Heaven’s Runway: The bay colt represents the hopes of many local fans at Delta Downs as he is trained by Louisiana resident and native Benard Chatters and is stabled in barn #2 on the backside of the racetrack. Chatters will attempt to become the second locally-based horsemen to enjoy success in the big race after Louisiana native jockey Gerard Melancon broke through with a victory aboard Sabercat last year. Heaven’s Runway is a half- brother to 2011 Martha Washington Stakes winner and multiple graded stakes placed mare Holy Heavens.
Show Some Magic: The Steve Asmussen trainee has been training at Fair Grounds in New Orleans since his sixth-place finish to Bern Identity in the Jean Lafitte Stakes on October 20. The chestnut colt breezed five furlongs on Saturday morning in 1:01.20 before vanning to Delta Downs on Sunday. Show Some Magic will attempt to give Asmussen back-to-back wins in the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot after he sent out Sabercat to victory in 2011. Asmussen is the only trainer to saddle multiple $500,000 Delta Downs Princess (Gr. III) winners as he sent out Punch Appeal in 2004 and Four Gifts in 2008.
Mylute: The runner-up to Bern Identity in the Jean Lafitte Stakes has also been spending time at Fair Grounds where he drilled five furlongs Friday morning in 1:02.60. The son of Breeders’ Cup Sprint Champion Midnight Lute is expected to van over to Delta Downs on Saturday morning before his big test later that day. If Mylute is victorious on Saturday it will mark his first win over dirt as his only other tally came on a synthetic surface at Arlington Park on August 11.
For more information about the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot, including the special $100,000 guaranteed Pick 4 wager that will take place during the program, visit www.deltadownsracing.com. Additional information about the race can also be found on the ‘Delta Downs Racing’ page on Facebook, and by following Delta Downs on Twitter with the account @deltaracing.