King Henny sweats out inaugural Big Drama Stakes

King Henny sweats out inaugural Big Drama Stakes

Delta Downs hosted two inaugural stakes last weekend and King Henny, who actually finished second, was moved up to first when Mr. Bandini’s Band was disqualified from first to fourth after interference around the final turn in the $100,000 Big Drama Stakes on Jan. 5.

Named in honor of the horse Big Drama, the 2008 winner of the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot winner and eventual Breeders’ Cup Sprint Champion, the race lived up to its name during the closing of the 7 furlong race for open bred 3 year olds.

After dropping back to mid-pack in a field of seven going seven furlongs, King Henny commenced a rally around the far turn and was angled off the rail by jockey Donnie Meche. That moved came several lengths behind the trio of Mr. Bandini’s Band, Hero Force and Heaven’s Runway. Those three were running shoulder to shoulder when Mr. Bandini’s Band drifted inward and caused his two rivals to steady and lose ground, which resulted in the disqualification.

In the homestretch, King Henny rallied stoutly to finish within three-quarters of a length of Mr. Bandini’s Band while Hero Force was another half-length back in third. The race was run over a sloppy track, and the final time was 1:27.46. The $2 win ticket returned $6.

Trained by Steve Asmussen for owner Erv Woosley, King Henny is a 3-year-old Kentucky bred colt sired by Henny Hughes who improved to three wins in five starts for earnings of $160,000.

Hero Force was moved up to second, and Heaven’s Runaway was third.

After finishing second to eventual Grade 1, Hollywood Starlet winner Pure Fun in her last start at Churchill Downs, 3-year-old filly Dancinginthecircle made quick work of five rivals Jan. 4 in the first running of the $100,000 By the Light Stakes at Delta Downs. The race is named after the New York-bred filly who won the 2007 edition of the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess.

After breaking cleanly in the seven-furlong test for sophomore fillies, Dancinginthecircle quickly gained the lead under jockey Terry Thompson and drew off to win by 9 lengths in 1:25.01 over a fast track for trainer Larry Jones and owner Bret Jones. Hometown Gossip was second, and Portales was good enough for third. The $2 win ticket paid $2.80. The winning time was the fastest 7-furlong finish of the Delta season, which ends March 23.

The daughter of Divine Park improved to 2-6 with earnings of $115,469. According to trainer Larry Jones, the Kentucky bred Dancinginthecircle has the Grade 3, $1 million Kentucky Oaks circled on her calendar. The race, on May 4 this year, is held the day before the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Live racing continues at Delta every Wednesday-Saturday at 5:45 p.m. Get free handicapping selections on race days via

Jockey/trainer stats

Diego Saenz now has a 13-win lead over both Gerard “Gee Money” Melancon and Chris Rosier in the jockey standings. Saenz has 58 wins in 267 starts while Melancon and Rosier are in second with 45. Joe Patin Jr. is third with 41 wins followed by Kevin Smith with 32. Saenz also leads all riders in earnings with $1,227,480.

Karl Broberg has an easy 10-win advantage over Keith Bourgeois atop the trainer’s standings with 32 wins in 104 starts for a Delta leading $524,150 in purse winnings. Bourgeois is second with 22 followed by three trainers with 16 victories in Joey Foster, Sam Breaux and Eric Nelson Jr.

Delta Jackpot winner wins Sham Stakes

Goldencents, who went wire to wire in November to win the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot, returned to the track last weekend and won the Grade 3, $100,000 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park in California on Jan. 5.

Ridden by Kevin Krigger for trainer Doug O’Neill, the 3-year-old son of Into Mischief sat right off the pace behind Manando then drew off to win by 1 1/2 lengths to cover 1 mile in 1:36.50.

Graded earnings are no longer used to qualify horses into the Kentucky Derby, but a point system has been put into place. Goldencents received 10 points for the win and is No. 1 with 24 points earned. His next start is unknown.

AQHA world champion nominations

The American Quarter Horse Association announced its nominations for their 2012 World Champions have several of the nominees have ties to Delta Downs.

Ms Jingles, who won three futurities last year at Delta including the $500,000 Lee Berwick, was nominated for 2-year-old Filly.

Multiple Delta stakes winner Charal Kid was nominated for Aged Gelding.

Individuals that were nominated were Geral Dewitt (owner), Alfonso Lujan (jockey), John Hamilton (jockey), David Alvarez (jockey) and Kenny Roberts (trainer).

Winners will be announced Jan. 16.