Is it ever too early to start thinking Kentucky Derby? For me it isn’t. In this week’s Horse Racing Race of the Week we will be taking a closer look at the 2013 Delta Downs Jackpot Million at Delta Downs in Vinton, La. The 8 1/2 furlong race for two year olds is the first major race (post-Breeders Cup Juvenile) for horses with 2014 Kentucky Derby aspirations. A field of 10 will go post-ward on Saturday with Coastline installed as the 5/2 morning line favorite
Being run for just the 10th time (It was not run in 2005), since its inception in 2002, the Jackpot Million has started to attract higher quality horses. After its first several years of being run, not much in the line of Kentucky Derby prospects came out of. However, more recently names like Rule, Gourmet Dinner, the stretch running Sabercat and Goldencents (who set a wicked pace in the 2013 Derby, before winning the BC Mile several weeks ago) are all on the list of past winners.
It should also be noted on the Delta Downs card is the $500,000 Delta Downs Princess Stakes…the female version of the Jackpot Million, sort of speak.
The cleverly named Miss Behaviour, a winner of 3 of 4 career starts, looks to be the one to beat in that race.
Delta Downs – Saturday, November 23, 2013
Race 7 – 4:15 PM
Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes. (Grade: 3)
For Two Year Olds
One And One Sixteenth Miles.
|1||1||Whyruawesome||2/G||L||E Martin, Jr.||117||A P Smith||
|2||2||Coastline||2/C||L||S Bridgmohan||119||M E Casse||
|3||3||Roman Unbridled||2/C||L||K J Smith||117||C Cook||
|4||4||Mighty Brown||2/C||L||M Mena||117||T A Ice||
|5||5||Rum Point||2/C||L||M Gutierrez||117||D F O’Neill||
|6||6||Flat Gone||2/C||L||D Saenz||117||J K Desormeaux||
|7||7||Rankhasprivileges||2/R||L1||R Albarado||117||K G McPeek||
|8||8||Casiguapo||2/C||L||L Saez||117||M Morales||
|9||9||Big Bazinga||2/G||L||R Napravnik||117||K Vassilieva||
|10||10||Rise Up||2/C||L||G Melancon||119||T M Amoss||
1) Coastline- gray colt by Speightstown finished second in his racing debut at Churchill Downs then was a driving, 3 ½ length winner of his second start vs. maidens at Keeneland.
But it was his third (and last) race in the Oct 27 $60,000 Street Sense Stakes (also at Churchill) that caught my attention. In that race, he broke well, assumed a stalking position early and, after being forced three wide on the turn for home, opened up on the field and cruised home a 3 length winner all while getting a mile distance in a solid 1:36.2
“His race at Keeneland was very good. They went a pretty good first half-mile and he kept running, so I was proud of him,” trainer Mark Casse said. “That was the day they ran all of the 2-year-old races at Churchill, a big preview day, and he ran (about) a full second faster than anyone else that day.”
Tries two turns for the first time on Saturday but still …consistency, good rider, good bloodlines, good trainer and steady string of solid works all add up to what looks like a winner to me.
2) Rise Up– was a blow out winner in 3 of his last 4 races including a pair of stakes races (one being a $200,000 race), sports a 5-3-1-0 overall record as well as steadily climbing speed figures thorough-out his career.
Add on a nice work for this (Nov 15- 5F- 1:00) and it certainly looks like this guy is going to be tough to beat in this race.
That being said, a “closer look” at the one bad race he ran (Sept 7- Iroquois at Churchill Downs) makes me hesitate.
I mean, was it the stretch to a two turn, 8 ½ furlong race at Churchill that did him in or was it just that quirky Churchill surface that he didn’t care for? or maybe he just didn’t run his race? Because all his other races were both shorter in distance and over tracks other than Churchill.
“We came into that Churchill race thinking we had a horse that would relax and was ready to route, and we got just the opposite; an aggressive horse that faltered,” trainer Thomas Amoss said. “We worked on that a lot between the Churchill race and the ($200,000) Jean Lafitte, and that worked out well.”
“He handled the (Delta) configuration well,” Amoss added. “The outside is a good spot for us because we know he has that in him—being too aggressive—so being outside and not too crowded is a good thing for our horse.”
Personally, I’m going to go with he didn’t care for the Churchill surface and he just didn’t run his race because if you draw a line through that bad one race and just look at the other four? He ran tremendous in all of them…. But it’s your call from there.
3) Casiguapo– made his racing debut in a stakes race at Calder on June 22 and, after breaking slowly and experiencing a wide trip, made up a ton of ground late to get up for third.(the winner, Yes I’m Lucky, is definitely a talent as he’s won 4 of his first 5 starts). He then absolutely destroyed a field of maidens (by 11 lengths) on July 20 while leading every step of the way.
His next race was at Saratoga in the (Sept. 20) Grade: 1 Hopeful Stakes. In that race, he was once again wide but was able to get up for (albeit a distant) second in the mud to top two year old Strong Mandate and then came back to finish fourth in the Havana/Honor Code Champagne Stakes.
Strong Mandate? Havana? Honor Code?….he meets no such rival in this race, so you have to respect the class drop.
Rum Point…ditto Casiguapo…this colt from the Doug O’Neill barn has been totally overmatched in his last three races where all three were Grade: 1 races including his last, which was a very well beaten 12th in the BC Juvenile. Once again, this race is a lot easier and you have to respect big class drop like this guy is taking. ““I think he’s a special colt,” O’Neill said. “He hasn’t shown up in a few of his races, but he’s shown up enough in the mornings that I really think he’s worthy of entry in a race like this. He’s got a great combination of speed and stamina, he has a lot of class, and he handles himself like a pro in the paddock – all characteristics that separate the good ones from the average ones.” Also note that O’Neill tabs “go to” rider Mario Guetierrez, who I swear has ice water running thru his veins, to take the mount. Mighty Brown is by the good looking (and gentle as a lamb) Big Brown and is actually still a maiden. But has hit the board in 5 of 6 career outings and the one time he missed, he was about a half a length short. Big Bazinga has had two starts thus far in his career. In the first one, he came from literally out of no-where to run past the entire field to win in his Woodbine debut and then showed a serious change in tactics to lead the Grade: 3 Grey Stakes (also at Woodbine) field to very deep stretch before grudgingly giving up the lead late while finishing second. Both races were impressive and he might run well on Saturday albeit I’m just not a huge fan of Canadian shippers.
Record: 18-54 = 33%
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Little Bets N’ Pieces:
**** Two-time champion Royal Delta has been retired and will be bred to European super-sire Galileo Besilu Stables, who own the mare, announced this past Wednesday .
Royal Delta won 12 of 22 starts and earned $4,811,126. She was voted champion 3-year-old filly of 2011 and champion older mare in 2012 as well as winning graded stakes races over seven different racetracks.
“I’ve had many great moments in my life but the joy and pleasure that Royal Delta has brought to me and my family is indescribable,” Ben Leon, owner of Besilu, said. “She offered us the opportunity to enjoy wonderful places, people and experiences. She was a gift that allowed us many thrilling moments and we will be forever grateful.
“Retiring her was a tough decision especially given the fact that she looks as good as she does, but we believe in doing what’s in her best interest. I would like to give special thanks to her Hall of Fame trainer and my friend Bill Mott who has guided her through such a successful racing career and also to my friend, Mike Smith, her Hall of Fame rider. I am looking forward to our future and the new chapter in her life.”
“Royal Delta was so talented,” jockey Mike Smith said. “When she brought her A game she could beat any horse in training.”“
Royal Delta will be in quarantine at Leon’s Besilu Farm in Ocala, Florida, as she prepares for a trip to Ireland and her “date” with Galileo. Galileo is a European champion and the most successful stallion currently standing in Europe.
**** Forty Tales, Capo Bastone, and Verrazano, all trained by Todd Pletcher, had their final tune-ups at Belmont Park for the Cigar Mile (next weekend) last Sunday.
The stretch running Forty Tales, who was second in the Bold Ruler Handicap Oct. 26 in his last start, went a half mile in :51.2.
The absolutely gorgeous Verrazano, who was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile Nov. 1 in his last, went a half in :47.3, and Capo Bastone, another late runner who was 13th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, went the same distance (with Verrazano) also in :47.3
“They (Capo Bastone and Verrazano) have been working together quite a bit,” said Pletcher. “We were looking for a similar type of work from both of them. I think it worked well in the past (and) just felt like it was a good match up. I thought both horses breezed really well. Both did it willingly, on the bridle, and gave me the indication they both bounced out of their Breeders’ Cup races in good order”.
“Forty Tales is a little less ambitious work horse,” added Pletcher. “We thought he worked well for what he normally does.”
Just as a side note, it was originally announced that Verrazano would be retired after the Breeders Cup (Mile), but evidently there was a change in plans.
**** Also breezing for the Cigar Mile was champion female sprinter Groupie Doll, who went a half mile in :48.3 last Saturday on the BelmontPark training track.
“She breezed really well,” said trainer Buff Bradley. “She went the first eighth in :12 2/5, finished up really well and galloped out strong, too, in 1:01 3/5.
“She’ll most likely breeze another half-mile next Sunday, (Nov. 24) and that will be it,” said Bradley.
**** Game On Dude and Will Take Charge head the nomination list for the upcoming $500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov 29. Both are expected to start.
Game On Dude, who fizzled as the favorite in the 2013 (and 2012) Breeders Cup Classic and had won six straight stakes races prior to the Classic, is in desperate need of a win to be reconsidered for Horse of the Year honors. The 6 year old gelding worked six furlongs is a scorching 1:12.3 last weekend prompting trainer Bob Baffert to say: “He’s doing really well, so right now all systems are go (for the Clark). The weight is a factor. He’s coming off a loss, so I guess he’ll get some consideration.”
Will Take Charge, who has all but captured the three year old championship with his nose defeat to Mucho Macho Man in the BC Classic, would clearly win that title with a win next Friday.
“I almost wish there was more to the season, because he is good right now,” trainer D Wayne Lukas said of Will Take Charge. “It’s a prestigious race in many ways. It’s a grade I and if we could get another grade I against older competition around two turns, I think it would be significant.”
“He’s better mentally, too.” Lukas added. “He now has got the idea that if he clocks them and you set him down at the top of the stretch, he finishes. To run down those horses—Game On Dude and Mucho Macho Man and those type horses—in the stretch like he did after getting bumped and pushed out was significant. I mean, he was running.”
Others nominated for the Clark are Bourbon Courage, winner of the 2012 Super Derby, Uncaptured, winner of the 2012 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs, Prayer for Relief, winner of the 2013 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker and the Governor’s Cup at Remington Park; Golden Ticket and Finnegans Wake.