With a $1 million purse and Grade 3 status, the Delta Downs Jackpot S. serves as an excellent steppingstone for Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls, and Saturday marks the eighth running of the 1 1/16-mile event in Vinton, Louisiana. An overflow of 12 two-year-olds, including the likes of BLUE LASER (Bluegrass Cat), SWEET DUCKY (Pulpit), RUSH NOW (Tiznow), CLASSIC LEGACY (Macho Uno) and GOURMET DINNER (Trippi), have been entered, but only 10 will be allowed to start.
After being previously held under the lights, the Delta Jackpot will switch to Saturday afternoon, with an estimated 4:15 p.m. (CST) local post time, and it’s the centerpiece of a dynamite 11-race card that contains eight stakes and more than $2.4 million in purses.
Grey S. (Can-G3) winner Blue Laser has been installed as the 3-1 favorite on the morning line. The Mark Casse-trained colt will bring a two-race winning streak into his dirt debut and picks up the services of Shaun Bridgmohan. The chestnut is a WinStar Farm homebred, the same owner/breeder of 2009 Delta Downs Jackpot winner Rule (Pulpit) and 2010 Kentucky Derby victor Super Saver.
Sweet Ducky, a sharp four-length scorer in the October 23 Seton Hall University S., will make his graded bow for Kelly Breen following two straight stakes wins at Monmouth Park. Joe Bravo will retain the mount on the dark bay colt, who is listed as the 4-1 second favorite on the morning line. Delaware Park invader Rush Now comes next at 9-2. Trained by Tony Dutrow, the bay colt broke his maiden by 13 3/4 lengths two starts back and exits a 3 3/4-length romp in the October 9 Dover S. He’ll get a new pilot in Robby Albarado.
Classic Legacy suffered his first career setback when finishing a close third in the Grey last time, but the gray colt has transferred to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and is eligible to improve upon his last outing. He receives a rider switch to Joe Talamo and is the co-fourth choice on the morning line at 6-1. Gourmet Dinner, who recorded victories in the Dr. Fager and Affirmed divisions of the Florida Stallion series, is also 6-1. The Steve Standridge trainee will look to rebound from a runner-up effort as the odds-on favorite in the In Reality.
New York-bred BUG JUICE (Mingun), a scintillating 10-length winner of the October 2 New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes for Bruce Levine, will bring a three-race winning skein into his first start against open rivals, and turf stakes winners ACES N KINGS (Jet Phone) and DREAMSRUNWILD (Offlee Wild) will both switch back to the main track for their connections. Stakes winner CLUBHOUSE RIDE (Candy Ride [Arg]) and multiple stakes-placed DECISIVE MOMENT (With Distinction) round out the main body of the field. JUSTIN PHILLIP (First Samurai) and TRUBS (First Samurai) will both need to draw in from the also-eligibles list.
The $500,000 Delta Princess S. (G3) attracted a nice field of nine juvenile fillies, including PROMISE ME A CAT (D’wildcat), who exits an impressive five-length tally in the Sweet Patootie S. at Belmont Park. The Carlos Martin-trained dark bay rolled to a 8 1/4-length decision over maiden special weight rivals two back and will make her first start at two turns Saturday in the one-mile Princess. Javier Castellano will be in to ride.
Other contenders include FISCAL POLICY (Wildcat Heir), a 6 1/4-length winner of the Bassinet S. in her last outing for Tom Amoss; NIJI’S GRAND GIRL (Candy Ride [Arg]), who exits a good-looking maiden score at Churchill Downs for Kenny McPeek; and local victress GRANDACIOUS (Grand Slam) from the Bret Calhoun stable.
The $125,000 Treasure Chest S. came up deep with BRIECAT (Adcat), LUNA VEGA (Malibu Moon) and WYNNING RIDE (Candy Ride [Arg]). A total of eight distaffers will square off in the one-mile test, and multiple Grade 2 queen Briecat exits a wire-to-wire score in the grassy Las Palmas H. (G2) at Santa Anita on October 31. Grade 2 victress LUNA VEGA (Malibu Moon) will make her first start since finishing second to subsequent Grade 1 winner Malibu Prayer (Malibu Moon) in the June 26 Lighthouse S., and Wynning Ride posted a nice win in the Iowa Distaff two back and is a Grade 1-placed on dirt for Baffert.
The $125,000 Delta Mile S. will feature nine horses, including Z HUMOR (Distorted Humor), who dead-heated for the win in the 2007 Delta Jackpot and exits an encouraging third in the Michael G. Schaefer Mile S. for Steve Asmussen. Maxxam Gold Cup winner and Texas Mile (G3) third-placer FIFTEEN LOVE (Point Given) also merits serious respect.
Louisiana-bred juveniles will be spotlighted in the $250,000 Louisiana Legacy S. and $250,000 Louisiana Jewel S. And the $60,000 Sam’s Town S. and $60,000 Orleans S., both seven-furlong open sprints for three-year-olds, complete the stakes action.