The $1 million Grade 3 Delta Jackpot is one of the best races on the calender. It is one of the only races after the Breeders’ Cup that actually matters and it takes place on Delta Down’s bullring style track. We hit the 2011 Delta Jackpot with Sabercat (8-1) and finished third last year with Mylute (25-1) who roared around the turn and looked a winner before flattening out.
WHYRUAWESOME (WHYWHYWHY x AWESOME FRANCES by AWESOME AGAIN): Local jockey Eddie Martin Jr. picks up the mount for trainer Anne Smith who has guided this gelding to a 4-1-1-0 record thus far in his young career. He showed promise in his first two races, closing from well back to break his maiden at Arlington and then finishing second in the Grade 3 Arlington Washington-Futurity. After that, he was basically a non-factor in an off-the-turf edition of the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes. He followed that up with a fifth place finish against allowance foes when Smith wheeled him back on two weeks rest at Keeneland. He could improve on the surface switch and has a rider that knows how to get it done at Delta Downs. This one is a threat if the race falls apart.
COASTLINE (SPEIGHTSTOWN x CULINARY by EL AMANTE): Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Shaun Bridgmahon, this colt will be the favorite for the 2013 Delta Jackpot. He exits a sharp win in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs, a race where he put away the highly regarded Almost Famous before drawing clear to a three length win. That win came on the heels of an equally impressive maiden win. He will be on the engine and figures to make the early lead. His fate could be decided based on how much pressure he gets in the early stages. This will be his first time going two turns. While I recognize this is a very good colt, I will look in another direction in search of a better price.
ROMAN UNBRIDLED (ROMAN RULER X AMBITION UNBRIDLED by UNBRIDLED’S SONG): Chad Cook pupil has looked strong since arriving at Delta Downs, scoring a maiden win and a fourth place finish in the Jean LaFitte. However, he was well beaten while fourth and is probably only a superfecta threat in the Delta Jackpot. Kevin Smith retains the mount.
MIGHTY BROWN (BIG BROWN x MIGHTY MARTHA by CHESTER HOUSE): Nobody will be pulling harder for this colt than Three Chimneys’, as this one’s sire, Big Brown, has dropped in fee from $35,000 to $10,000 and desperately needs a marquee win. It could happen. While he is without a win in six tries, he has finished second four times and was most recently runner up in the Jean Lafitte. That was his best race to date. He figures to get better with more distance and will be provided an extra half furlong this time. Don’t leave Mighty Brown off your tickets. Miguel Mena rides for Tim Ice.
RUM POINT (MALIBU MOON x QUIET WEEKEND by QUIET AMERICAN): Plenty of support will come the way of this colt, but he will have to beat me. He’s only got one good race and that was when he made the lead at Del Mar and beat maidens. He has been ninth, fourth and 12th against Grade 1 company since then. Mario Gutierrez would be wise to try to get this one to show more early. Doug O’Neill trains for Reddam Racing, making this the same owner-trainer-jockey trio that won the Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another in 2012.
FLAT GONE (FLATTER x ME GOTTA GO by KAYRAWAN): Trainer Keith Desormeaux certainly knows his way around a nice horse and he seems to think this one has potential. Flat Gone is young and inexperienced. He has yet to record a maiden win, but was only defeated five lengths against Grade 1 company in the FrontRunner from Santa Anita. I don’t think he’s ready to get the job done in the Delta Jackpot, but could be one to watch down the road. Diego Saenz retains the mount after riding this one to a third place finish in the Jean Lafitte last out.
RANKHASPRIVILEGES (EINSTEIN x SCRAPE by MR. PROSPECTOR): Ken McPeek isn’t typically a trainer that has horses ready for a debut win, but this guy got the job done in spite of that. Despite a poor break and having to race around two turns, the bay ridgling found the winners circle at Keeneland. Now, he switches to dirt and McPeek has equipped lasix for the first time. It’s tough to back him with so many experienced and talented foes lined up, but if the price is right (double digit odds) I wouldn’t fault anyone for using him on a Pick 3 or Pick 4 ticket.
CASIGUAPO (SIGHTSEEING x EMERALD BUDDHA by BUDDHA): Used a strong hand ride to break his maiden by 11 lengths at Calder before finishing second to Strong Impact in the Grade 1 Hopeful. After that he was fourth to Havana in the Champagne. Trainer Mario Morales has him working bullets at Calder and it looks like he is ready to produce a big effort in his first race since October 5. Luis Saez retains the mount and will likely employ a strategy that brings his colt from the middle of the pack. Saving ground will be key as this horse has lost a couple lengths because of wide trips in the past.
BIG BAZINGA (BLUEGRASS CAT x DARLING DAUGHTER by MARIA’S MON): Won his Woodbine debut at odds of 31-1 despite racing around two turns and a slow start. His next start came in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes where he made the lead against three other horses and was beaten just a half-length for the win. He was ten lengths clear of the third place finisher. Trained by Katerina Vassilieva, this one looks primed for an upset effort. His speed figures make him threat as do his tactical speed ability to handle traffic. His pedigree suggests the surface switch won’t be a problem. I have a feeling the betting public will overlook him too. Big Bazinga is my top pick to win the 2013 Delta Jackpot Stakes.
RISE UP (ROCKPORT HARBOR x APPENZELL by JOHANNESBURG): Deceased stallion Rockport Harbor is well represented on the track and this son may be the heir to the throne. Purchased by Paul and Andrena Van Doren for trainer Thomas Amoss, he looks favorably slotted to do well here. He has early speed, but can rate, is a stakes winner at Delta Downs thanks to a six and a half-length Jean Lafitte win and is firing bullets in the morning. Jockey Gerard Melancon won this race in 2011 with Sabercat and was third last year with Mylute. If you toss out his debut where he finished second and the Iroquois Stakes where he tired to be sixth, this colt hasn’t been challenged. That changes in the Delta Jackpot. We will find out exactly how good he is.