Thoroughbred racing season begins Friday at Delta

Tracy Hebert

The fastest athletes on dirt will return to Delta Downs on Friday, Oct. 19, as the 2012-13 thoroughbred horseracing season begins with a first-race post time of 5:45 p.m. After opening weekend, live race days are Wednesday-Saturday until the meet concludes March 23. The only exceptions to the schedule will come on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, when the track is closed.

Opening weekend will see two stakes races beginning with the seventh running of the $150,000 My Trusty Cat Stakes on Friday for 2-year-old fillies competing at 7 furlongs. This race is a stepping stone toward the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess, which takes place Nov. 17.

A full field of 10 are slated to run in the contest including two under the eye of trainer Steve Asmussen, Madame Cactus and Miss Goodthing, and Cayllano, who is out of the barn of Thomas Amoss.

Madame Cactus ships over from California where she has one win in two starts, and Richard Eramia will be in the saddle. Miss Goodthing is 2-4 and has a two-race win streak coming to Delta after winning the Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Louisiana Downs. Mark Guidry will get the ride.

Kentucky bred Cayllano is 2-3 and has raced at Indiana Downs, Delaware Park and Saratoga. She finished fourth in the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes and will have veteran jockey and last year’s Delta Jackpot winning rider Gerard Melancon on board.

Citizen Advocate won last year’s race in 1:26.94 with Luis Jurado riding for trainer David Vivian. The stakes’ record belongs to Truth and Justice, who completed the course in 1:26.29 in 2007.

Saturday night, Oct. 20, the featured race will be the $200,000 Jean Lafitte stakes for 2-year-olds going 1 mile, a prep for the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot, which is also held Nov. 17.

More than 100 horses were nominated for the race and as of press time, post positions were not available. My Adonis won last year’s contest in 1:40.56.

Among the big nominations was Joha, who is 3-6 with earnings of $425,767 for trainer Michael Maker. Joha won the Grade 1, $400,000 Breeders’ Cup Futurity earlier this month.

Trainer Kelly Breen nominated Bern Identity, who won the Grade 2, $300,000 Sanford at Saratoga with ease in July.

The two biggest races of the season, the Delta Downs Jackpot and the Delta Downs Princess, will be held Nov. 17 with a special post time of 1:15 p.m. There will be eight stakes races on the program.

Another rich program will take place Saturday, Feb. 2, when the track hosts an edition of Louisiana Premier Night. The annual event features 10 stakes races and more than $1 million in total purse money awarded to horses bred Louisiana.

Last year’s top horsemen are expected to return to Delta this year and once again vie for top honors. Tracy Hebert, who won his third riding title last year, will return to battle it out with past champions like Gerard Melancon and Diego Saenz.

In the trainer ranks, Karl Broberg is the favorite to win his second title in a row after saddling 44 winners last year and taking top honors at Evangeline Downs this summer.

There will be a new trainer saddling horses at Delta this season in Gennadi Dorochenko; the 53-year-old native of the Ukraine will have 30 horses on the grounds. The former jockey came to the United States with $500 in his pocket and spoke no English.

One of Dorochenko’s biggest wins as a trainer came in April when he sent out Hero of Order to win the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds at odds of 109-1.