Two dominating performances by juveniles happened in back-to-back races at Delta Downs on Nov. 19, capped by Gunnevera’s 5 ½-length runaway victory in the $1 million, Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes.
In the previous race, the one-mile Delta Downs Princess, undefeated Shane’s Girlfriend and jockey Flavien Prat won by 13 1/4 lengths. Both winners were awarded 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks, respectively.
For most of the 1 1/16 miles, Peacock Racing Stable’s Gunnevera, under jockey Javier Castellano, raced at the back of the 10-horse field as Our Stormin Norman and Hot Sean dueled for the early lead. The leading pair set quarter-mile fractions of :23.18, :47.05, and 1:12.52 through six furlongs. In a confident move, Castellano asked Gunnevera to go wide through the final turn and the 2-year-old colt responded, circling the entire field to drive well clear in the stretch and stop the clock in 1:45.15.
Hot Sean finished second, four lengths ahead of Dangerfield in third.
Sent off as the 5-2 favorite, Gunnevera returned $7.80, $4.40, and $3.40 across the board.
A chestnut colt by Dialed In, Gunnevera also won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special Stakes, just like last year’s Jackpot winner Exaggerator, who then went on to win the Santa Anita Derby, Preakness, and Betfair.com Haskell Invitational Stakes, all Grade 1 races.
Gunnevera now has a record of three wins from six starts for trainer Antonio Sano, with earnings of $771,000.
Out of the Unbridled mare Unbridled Rage, the chestnut colt was purchased by Sano for $16,000 from Brandywine Farm and Stephen Upchurch at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale.