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Goldencents won the Delta Downs Jackpot in 2012 before going on to win the 2013 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile a few weeks ago (Photo courtesy of Coady Photography).

Saturday marks the return of the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot Stakes for 2-year-olds at Delta Downs in Vinton, La., at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. This race boasts a substantial purse of $1 million making it one of the most lucrative races for 2-year-olds in the United States; just behind the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and tied with the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont.

In its short history, the race has had several changes and interesting turns of events. 

First contested in 2002, the race was run at a distance of one mile and featured a purse of $500,000. The next year the purse was doubled to a cool $1 million and stretched to a distance of 1 1/16 miles. The race was run this way for a couple years until 2005, when the race was canceled because of Hurricane Rita. It returned the following year with its new and current Grade 3 distinction, the same conditions and purse structure. Then, in 2008, with the economic downturn, the race was forced to drop its purse to $750,000 for two years. In 2010, the race parted ways with Boyd Gaming as its sponsor and returned its purse to $1 million. It has remained this way ever since.

This race may not hold the prestige of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile or the Champagne, but in its short history it has proved an important steppingstone on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with 10 points going to the winner, four points to second place, two points to third place and one point to the fourth-place finisher. The winner’s share of $600,000 is nothing to scoff at either. But who is worried about money, right? This race is all about prepping to get to the Kentucky Derby and last year a record three of its participants ended up making it to the big show on the first Saturday in May: Goldencents, Mylute, and Itsmyluckyday. Not too shabby of a group as they have combined to win $3,410,795 with Goldencents firmly in contention to win the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old after decisively winning the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. 

This year’s race is once again looking like a pretty strong field with all 10 2-year-old competitors searching for their first graded stakes win, their share of the $1 million purseand the coveted points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. 

Let’s take a look at this year’s field and see what we are working with. I have listed them in order according to their post positions and included their morning line odds and connections for the race. 

1. Whyruawesome (10-to-1)
Jockey: E. Martin Jr.
Trainer: Anne Smith
Owner: Windy Hill Farm
This gelding by Whywhywhy is a longshot coming into this race at 10-to-1 on the morning line. He broke his maiden at Arlington Park on Aug. 16 and then followed with a solid second place in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity on the track’s synthetic surface.  He has been off form lately after a badly beaten 11th in the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland followed by a disappointing fifth-place finish in an allowance race at Keeneland.  Whyruawesome seems to have trained much better on a synthetic surface compared with dirt so this will be a pretty big test.

2. Coastline (5-to-2)
Jockey: Shaun Bridgmohan
Trainer: Mark Casse
Owner: John C. Oxley
The morning-line favorite is coming into this race in very good form. This son of Speightstown won the Street Sense Stakes last out going a mile at Churchill Downs against some very good company and has also put in some solid workouts heading into this race.  This horse has won two of three starts, winning his last two, and was a good second to Almost Famous in his racing debut. He also has some of the highest Beyer Speed Figures of any horse in the race, so expect him to run a big one. Trainer Mark Casse has a good shot at becoming the first trainer to win multiple editions of this race.


DDJackpot Hero

Photo courtesy of Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer

3. Roman Unbridled (30-to-1)
Jockey: K. J. Smith
Trainer: Chad Cook
Owner: Michelle Y. Brown
Another big longshot, Roman Unbridled is coming into this race after finishing fourth in the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs. Unfortunately for him, the three horses that finished above him - Rise Up, Mighty Brown and Flat Gone - are all entered in this race. His jockey is also only winning at a rate of five-percent at Delta Downs. He will need to put in a much better effort this time out to get his second career victory.

4. Mighty Brown (12-to-1)
Jockey: Miguel Mena
Trainer: Tim Ice
Owner: Tri Star Racing LLC and The Farm on 4 LLC
One of two horses in this race that are still maidens, Mighty Brown is looking to finally secure his first victory after running second to Rise Up in the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs last time out. The colt has been very competitive in his six career starts with four second-place finishes along with a third-place effort. Unfortunately, most of these efforts did not occur on the dirt. His speed figures did significantly increase last time out when running on the Delta Downs dirt track so he could be primed for a big performance and at a price at that.

5. Rum Point (5-to-1)
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Trainer: Doug O'Neill
Owner: Reddam Racing LLC
Rum Point is racing under the same connections as 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another. Trainer Doug O’Neill is looking for his charge to restore some of the magic from that year. It looks like it will take a big effort though. This will just be Rum Point’s second start on a traditional dirt track, having run a very disappointing 12th of 13 last out in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his first time running on the dirt. His last three starts have all been in Grade 1 races so the drop in class could be beneficial for him to score his first graded stakes win. O’Neill is also attempting to become the first trainer to win this race multiple times after winning last year with Goldencents.

6. Flat Gone (20-to-1)
Jockey: Diego Saenz
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Owner: Don’t Tell My Wife Stables 2013 LLC
Flat Gone is the other horse in this race who has failed thus far to break his maiden in four career starts with his best finish being a third-place effort last out in the Jean Lafitte Stakes. The son of Flatter is coming into this race with a very sharp workout but will need a career best effort to get the win.  

7. Rankhasprivileges (15-to-1)
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Trainer: Kenneth McPeek
Owner: Magdalena Racing
Rankhasprivileges is coming into this race after breaking his maiden at Keeneland on Oct. 20 in his career debut. In that race he ran a solid 70 Beyer Speed Figure. He also adds Lasix for the first time so this could be a big help. He worked a solid four furlongs in 48.40 at Churchill Downs on Nov. 16, so he could really like the switch to a traditional dirt track. 

8. Casiguapo (4-to-1)
Jockey: Luis Saez
Trainer: Mario Morales
Owner: All American Horses
Casiguapo is my pick to win this race. In four career starts he has a win, a second, and a third-place finish. Last time out, he came in fourth in the Champagne behind Havana, Honor Code, and Ride on Curlin. The time before that he was a very good second in the slop in the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga behind Strong Mandate, who put in a freakish performance to win by 9 ¾ lengths. The horses he has finished behind recently are all top contenders, so this drop in class could be his time to shine. He looks to be coming into this race in top form as well after putting in a very sharp five-furlong workout at Calder in 1:00.80. He also has one of the better young riders in the country with Luis Saez getting the mount. Look out for him to put in a big performance this Saturday.



9. Big Bazinga (12-to-1)
Jockey: Rosie Napravnik
Trainer: Katerina Vassilieva
Owner: Derby Dreamers Racing Stable
Another decently priced horse, Big Bazinga is looking to improve upon his second-place finish last out in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine. This will be just the second start of his career and first start on a dirt track. Both of his efforts on the Woodbine synthetic have been very impressive as he won his career debut and then lost by just a neck in the Grey after getting caught deep stretch. He seems to be training well on the dirt course at Churchill though and should be primed for a good performance. I think his chances will have a lot to do with his preference for the track surface but obviously his owners are thinking of one thing and that is getting to and winning the Kentucky Derby ... just look at their name above.

10. Rise Up (3-to-1)
Jockey: Gerard Melancon
Trainer: Tom Amoss
Owner: Paul and Adrena Van Doren
Rise Up enters this race as the morning line second choice at 3-to-1. The son of Rockport Harbor also is coming into this race off a stakes win after he took the Jean Lafitte Stakes last out by by an impressive 6½ lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 88. Out of five career starts he has won three times, come in second once, and has a field-best career earnings of $210,633. Trainer Tom Amoss looks to have his charge in prime shape after working a bullet [the fastest time of the day] five furlongs in a minute flat at Fair Grounds on Nov. 15. Expect to see him run a big race come Saturday.

$1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes

Saturday, Race 7, Delta Downs, 5:15 p.m. ET

1 1/16 miles dirt, 2-year-olds







Whyruawesome (KY)

Eddie Martin Jr.


Anne Smith


Coastline (KY)

Shaun Bridgmohan


Mark Casse


Roman Unbridled (KY)

Kevin Smith


Chad Cook


Mighty Brown (KY)

Miguel Mena


Tim Ice


Rum Point (KY)

Mario Gutierrez


Doug O'Neill


Flat Gone (KY)

Diego Saenz


Keith Desormeaux


Rankhasprivileges (KY)

R. Albarado


K. McPeek


Casiguapo (KY)

Luis Saez


Mario Morales


Big Bazinga (KY)

R. Napravnik


K. Vassilieva


Rise Up (KY)

Gerard Melancon


Tom Amoss

Image Description

Chip McGaughey

Born and raised in the Thoroughbred horse industry, Chip has an impressive knowledge of all aspects of the racing world—from the backside to handicapping. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and has marketing experience as well.

Image Description

Chip McGaughey

Born and raised in the Thoroughbred horse industry, Chip has an impressive knowledge of all aspects of the racing world—from the backside to handicapping. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and has marketing experience as well.

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