The 10th running of the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot will not only feature a full field of nine of the most talented 2-year-old horses in the country, but in town will be this year’s Kentucky Derby winning jockey/trainer tandem of Mario Gutierrez and Doug O’Neill, who will try to win the Jackpot with Know More. Gutierrez and O’Neill won this year’s Derby and Preakness Stakes with I’ll Have Another. O’Neill will also start Goldencents, who is the soft morning line favorite.
Jackpot Day is Saturday, Nov. 17, with a first-race post time of 1:15 p.m. at Delta Downs in Vinton, La. With 11 races on the docket, headlining will of course be the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot for open bred 2-year-old runners going the 1 1/16-mile distance on the dirt.
There will be seven other stakes races including the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess for open bred 2-year-old fillies going 1 mile. Total purse money on Saturday will be more than $2.2 million.
Betters will enjoy a guaranteed $100,000 Pick 4 for Races 4-7 with a minimum bet of 50 cents. Last year’s Jackpot Day Pick 4 returned $6,087.60 on a $2 winning ticket.
Those who cannot make it out to Delta Downs, which is also kid friendly, can watch free online at deltadowns.com or listen to SiriusXM 93 from 9 a.m to noon with Dave Johnson and Bill Finley, then again from 3-5 p.m.
Here is the field for the 10th running of the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot with post positions and morning line odds:
1. Bern Identity (7-2)
Jockey: Paco Lopez
Trainer: Kelly Breen
This Kentucky bred has 3 wins in 5 starts with a second and a third, so he’s never been out of the money. He last ran on Oct. 20, and it was a romping victory in the $200,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes here at Delta, so the horse knows the track. He broke his maiden by nearly 14 lengths at Saratoga in New York, and his worst defeat came in the Grade 2, $300K Hopeful, but he only lost by 4 lengths to Shanghai Bobby, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last week. Bern Identity’s sire, Bernstein, wasn’t anything to write home about, but this colt looks to be a runner and leads the field in earnings with $426,000. His dam, Maddalena, is a graded stakes winner. Breen will try for the fourth time to win this race. His best finish came in 2008 with West Side Bernie (2nd). Likely the horse to beat.
2. Heaven’s Runaway (20-1)
Jockey: Carlos Marquez
Trainer: Benard Chatters
Multiple graded stakes placing trainer Benard Chatters starts most of his horses in Louisiana, where he is from, but this will be his first Jackpot runner. This colt last competed at Churchill Downs on Oct. 28 and was 7th in the Grade 3 Iroquois at 1 mile. He is 2-5 with both wins coming at Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania. Heaven’s Runaway is a half-brother to Holy Heavens, who won the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The colt’s sire, Run Away and Hide, was a perfect 3-3, winning graded stakes at Churchill and Saratoga.
3. Central Banker (6-1)
Jockey: Miguel Mena
Trainer: Al Stall
Connections of this Kentucky bred paid the late $10,000 supplement fee to run this colt, so they must think very highly of him. He’s 2-4 lifetime with a second and a third, so he has yet to miss a check. His last win came in his last start, Oct. 28, when he romped to a 5-length win at Churchill Downs at 6 1/2 furlongs in an Allowance race. Banker’s other win came on the turf at Saratoga where he beat Hightail by a head at 5 1/2 furlongs. His sire, Speightstown, won several graded stakes including the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2004. This will be Stall’s third Jackpot runner, with his best finish coming last year with Seven Lively Sins (4th).
4. Mylute (15-1)
Jockey: Gerard Melancon
Trainer: Tom Amoss
Amoss enters his fourth runner in the Jackpot, with his best finish coming in 2009 with Oak Motte (3rd). Mylute is 1-5, with his lone win coming at Arlington Park on Aug. 11 at 6 furlongs. He then ran 5th in the Arlington-Washington Futurity and last ran Oct. 20 at Delta Downs, chasing Bern Identity in the Jean Lafitte for a 2nd-place finish with Gerard Melancon in the saddle. Melancon won this race last year aboard Sabercat. Interesting breeding on this Kentucky colt — the sire is a two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, and the dam, Stage Stop, ran 3rd in the $500K Delta Princess in 2006.
5. Hightail (9-2)
Jockey: Rajiv Maragh
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
This Kentucky bred colt has the most experience of the field with 9 total starts and comes over to Delta after winning the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, which was also the colt’s first win. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will have his first Jackpot runner, the son of Mineshaft. It will also be the first time a Breeders’ Cup winner has participated in this race. Looking at past performances, this colt ran way behind Bern Identity in July at Saratoga and was a head back of Central Banker on the turf at Saratoga. The sire, Mineshaft, was a multiple graded stakes winner, which included the Woodward, Whirlaway and Stephen Foster Handicap.
6. Itsmyluckyday (8-1)
Jockey: Angel Serpa
Trainer: Edward Plesa Jr.
This colt has won his last two starts (3-5 overall), both small stakes at Calder Race Course in Florida, by a combined 7 lengths and will attempt to become the 3rd Jackpot winner who last prepped at Calder (Big Drama 2008, Gourmet Dinner 2010). Plesa Jr. has been training since 1982 and has run many graded stakes winners. His horse Gottcha Gold was 2nd in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. The sire of Itsmyluckyday is Lawyer Ron, who was the 2007 Champion Older Male who won many graded stakes and finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby in 2006.
7. Know More (4-1)
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Trainer O’Neill and jockey Mario Gutierrez won the Kentucky Derby in May with I’ll Have Another, and now O’Neill will attempt to win his first Jackpot in three tries while Gutierrez makes his Delta debut. This Kentucky bred colt is 1-4, with his lone win coming in his debut, was Grade 2 Best Pal at Del Mar. He has finished second in both the Grade 1 Front Runner at Santa Anita and Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. Know More comes over from Santa Anita, where he ran 13th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Nov. 3. His sire Lion Heart won several graded stakes and finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby and 4th in the Preakness, both in 2004.
8. Show Some Magic (20-1)
Jockey: Richard Eramia
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Asmussen won this race last year with Sabercat and will enter his 8th Jackpot runner with Show Some Magic. This colt was 6th in the Jean Lafitte at Delta on Oct. 20 and is 1-6 lifetime, with his lone win coming at Saratoga in August. His sire, Any Given Saturday, was a multiple graded stakes winner.
9. Goldencents (5-2)
Jockey: Kevin Krigger
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
This Kentucky bred colt is the least experienced of the group with 2 starts and 1 win. He last Oct. 6 at Belmont Park in New York and finished 2nd behind Shanghai Bobby (winner of the BC Juvenile) via 5 lengths at a mile. His win came in his first start at Del Mar at 5 1/2 furlongs. Goldencents’ sire, Into Mischief, was a Grade 1 stakes winner and never finished worse than 2nd in six career starts. One of two horses for trainer Doug O’Neill in the race.
Coop’s Picks: Check back on Saturday morning