Saturday, November 21 is the marquee day of the season at Delta Downs: Delta Jackpot Day. Yesterday, Picks and Ponderings brought you tag-team previews of the two graded stakes on the card, the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (GIII) and the Delta Downs Princess Stakes (GIII). Both of those two-year-old races offer not only huge purses (seven figures, in the case of the Jackpot), but also points toward qualifying for the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks.
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!
Saturday's card at Delta Downs has eight stakes in total, and Picks and Ponderings is there to guide you through all of them. The Delta Mile and the Treasure Chest draw the three-and-up miler crowd, the Sam's Town and the Orleans cater to three-year-olds, and the Louisiana-bred juveniles have their day in the Louisiana Legacy and the Louisiana Jewel.
Pick 4 players should take special note of the Louisiana Legacy, the Delta Mile, the Delta Princess, and the Delta Jackpot. Those four races comprise an all-stakes Pick 4, with a $200,000 guaranteed pool and a $0.50 minimum bet.
Delta Downs has free live streams of these races, as well as all of their racing, on their website as well as on the Horse Races Now mobile app. Furthermore, the Delta Jackpot will be the Race of the Week on Sirius XM 93, and that broadcast will run from 3:00pm-5:00pm CST. Sirius 93 will also provide advance coverage of the Delta Jackpot on "Down the Stretch", which airs from 9:00am-12:00pm CST.
Authors of stakes previews are denoted with initials: PM for Paul Mazur, and NN for Nicolle Neulist.
Race 2: Orleans Stakes, three-year-old fillies, non-winners of a sweepstakes, seven furlongs on the dirt, post time 1:44pm CST
#4 MY MISS VENEZUELA (8/5)
#3 LUNAR GAZE (2/1)
#1 MAYLA (9/5)
Longshot: #6 TOP FIGURE (20/1) -- PM
Race 3: Louisiana Jewel Stakes, two-year-old fillies, Louisiana-bred, one mile on the dirt, post time 2:12pm CST
The moniker for race sets aside the casino cross-promotion theme, and instead evokes the conditions of this race. The Louisiana Jewel is restricted to juvenile fillies bred in the state of Lousiana. It covers the same distance,a two-turn bullring mile, and offers a $150,000 purse. Last year's winner, Wind Chill Factor, went on to win two more Louisiana-bred stakes at the Fair Grounds before her juvenile season had drawn to a close, and captured the title of champion Louisiana-bred juvenile filly.
This year's edition of the Louisiana Jewel Stakes drew a field of nine Louisiana-bred two-year-old fillies. GLITTER O'PRADO has not yet won at a mile, but she has tried the distance twice. Both of those two-turn starts were in listed stakes on grass. She finished second in the listed Happy Ticket Stakes at Louisiana Downs, and then fifth in the listed La Senorita at Retama. Here she returns to Louisiana, drops from listed company to state-breds, and returns to the dirt. She broke her maiden second out, going five and a half furlongs on dirt. Still, she did well enough in the Happy Ticket to suggest that a mile will not be out of her abilities. She also has shown speed figures solid for the field, as well as some versatility of pace. Her maiden win came right on a contested pace, but that second in the Happy Ticket came from well off the pace early. That versatility should suit her here. Expect her to rally from off the pace, since MOMENT OF GRACE and SMILEY BRILEY have both done their best on the front end, but she should be live from anywhere. ZUZOR has raced just once, but it was at Delta Downs, and it was a convincing maiden win at six and a half furlongs over dirt. Her trainer Ron Faucheux gets his last-out maiden winners home again 24% of the time, and has a 26% strike rate on the Delta meet. 29% rider Colby Hernandez, who booted ZUZOR home on debut, returns to the irons. In terms of pace, she stalked and showed a passing gear in that debut win, suggesting the speedsters should be no problem. She should also stretch out to the mile easily, being by Pioneerof the Nile out of an A. P. Indy mare.
The field is rather stratified, and GLITTER O'PRADO and ZUZOR look the strongest win candidates by far. This space would be comfortable going two deep in multi-race wagers with just that pair. However, WILDCAT SPRINGS has appeal to finish in the money. She is showing good, gradual improvement in her speed figures, and may take another step forward here. She is by route sire Tenpins, and though sprint sire Forest Wildcat sired dam Red Wildcat, that mare has produced two two-turn winners. Perhaps WILDCAT SPRINGS takes to the first-time route. Though still a maiden, her better races suggest that she will be near the back of the pack early. But, with some pace likely to materialize in front of her, she should be rallying late for a piece.
#2 GLITTER O'PRADO (7/2)
#7 ZUZOR (5/2)
#6 WILDCAT SPRINGS (6/1)
Longshot: Only one filly in this field has a one-mile win under her belt: #8 GIANT CRUISER (12/1), who graduated at a mile on the Evangeline dirt in August. It makes sense, since this filly has route distances all over her pedigree: she is the first winner sired by Illinois-bred multiple GI winner Giant Oak, and underneath, she is out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare. Her dam was unraced, but her second dam did her best going long. After that maiden win, she tried the listed Happy Ticket Stakes at Louisiana Downs, but was well-beaten. However, that start was on the turf at Louisiana Downs; she returns to dirt here. She will have to take a step forward to strike against this set. Still, with some pace to chase and 20% Delta rider Gerard Melancon in the irons, GIANT CRUISER could rise to the occasion here. -- NN
Race 4: Louisiana Legacy Stakes, two-year-old colts and geldings, Louisiana-bred, one mile on the dirt, post time 2:43pm CST
The Louisiana Legacy is the males' complement to the Louisiana Jewel: a $150,000 dirt mile for juvenile colts and geldings bred in Louisiana. Like the fillies' race, the name evokes the conditions of the race. The 2013 edition was won by Ide Be Cool, who gained a bit of national notoriety after winning each of his first seven career starts. However, the best known horse associated with the Louisiana Legacy did not win the race. In 2012, Heitai fought on gamely to hold second in this race. Heitai, brilliant at dash distances, showed his class and his gameness by finishing a clear second in a race so much longer than his best.
This year's edition of the Louisiana Legacy drew an overflow field of ten, plus one also eligible entry. The morning line favourite is OUR RAPIDASH, winner of the Louisiana Stallion Stakes last out at Louisiana Downs. That was two months ago, and trainer Glenn Delahoussaye only wins at 8% (with 37% in the money) off of similar layoffs. Rider Donnie Meche does return from that Lousiana Downs win last out, but has only won four of his 54 starts this meet. With nothing about his form that really towers over this field, there are far better alternatives than OUR RAPIDASH here.
OUR RAPIDASH and SEA VOW stand to send, but G'S JOSH should have them square in his sights. He ran down the aforementioned SEA VOW in a Louisiana-bred N2X going six and a half furlongs at Delta Downs on October 22. That was his first race in about two months -- making G'S JOSH second off the lay here in the Louisiana Legacy, and liable to improve. Even a repeat of his last-out effort puts him right in contention. His connections are also top-notch: trainer Bret Calhoun has a 42% win rate this meet at Delta, and rider Roberto Morales has won four of his last 12 (for a +$1.30 ROI) these last two months. Morales rode G'S JOSH to that allowance win, and he could very well ride him to a win here.
BERNIESTRIKE and MICK also deserve a good look. BERNIESTRIKE graduated last out against open maiden special weight company -- his fifth career start, but his first over the Delta Downs oval, and his first try at two turns. He is the only runner in the field who has a route win to his credit, and it's a win over the same course and distance as the Louisiana Legacy. Pace-wise, he does his best work stalking, a style that should suit this race shape well. He also gets rider Manuel Chaves back from his maiden win, and trainer Henry Johnson, Jr. wins 19% of the time (with positive ROI) with two-year-olds. MICK is still a maiden, but he was third beaten only a length and a three quarters by BERNIESTRIKE last out, going a mile over the Delta Downs dirt. That was only his second career start, leaving open some room for him to improve. His last race was a step forward from his seven-furlong debut in September, but not such a huge leap that he can't move forward further. MICK also has strong connections behind him: trainer Brett Brinkman has been winning at 35% this Delta Downs meet, and he and jockey Eddie Martin, Jr. have won three of their five starts together over the last two months -- with a +$13.36 ROI. It is a small sample size, but MICK should be a square price here, and is going the right way, over the right distance, over the right track. -- NN
#7 G'S JOSH (7/2)
#6 BERNIESTRIKE (5/1)
#8 MICK (10/1)
Longshot: #1 ROSE NEEDS A CHECK (10/1) struggled in five starts through the spring and summer. He took a break starting in late August, returned in mid-October, and has won both his fall starts by daylight. Of course, he won those races against softer stuff than he faces here: he graduated against state-bred $10,000 maiden claimers, and then beat state-bred $20,000 N2L company. However, both of those races were at Delta Downs, and he showed the best speeds of his career. Perhaps he is a Delta horse for the course. His late pace figures in those last two starts also shine, even compared to this stakes field, suggesting he will be furiously closing up ground late. He also gets rider Brandon Menard back in the irons. Menard was aboard for both of his wins, and has won four of his 19 starts this meet at Delta. If the pace gets a bit hot early, ROSE NEEDS A CHECK could get a very big check at a very big price.
Race 5: Delta Mile Stakes, three-year-olds and up, one mile on the dirt, post time 3:13pm CST
#7 COUGAR RIDGE (3/1)
#1 DEPARTING (8/5)
#2 AGENT DI NOZZO (9/2)
Longshot: The longshot writer is busy enjoying a $10.95 Prime Rib Special. -- PM
Race 6: Delta Downs Princess Stakes (GIII), two-year-old fillies, one mile on the dirt, post time 3:43pm CST
Race 7: Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (GIII), two-year-olds, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 4:15pm CST
Our previews for the Delta Princess and the Delta Jackpot are posted in another piece, with both PM and NN giving their takes on both races.
Race 8: Treasure Chest Stakes, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one mile on the dirt, post time 4:45pm CST
The name Treasure Chest fits the theme of a Jackpot...but it also goes right back to the theme of promoting other Boyd Gaming properties. As Delta Downs sits near the Gulf of Mexico near the western edge of Louisiana, the Treasure Chest sits about three hours away, near the state's eastern boundary. The race is the fillies' and mares' counterpart to the Delta Mile, being one mile on the dirt for the three-and-up set. The ladies do so for a slightly lower purse, however: $200,000 compared to the Mile's $250,000. Yahilwa won the Treasure Chest last year, notching the first stakes win of her career. It was not the last, however: she advanced to graded glory in Chicagoland this April when she scored in the Sixty Sails Handicap (GIII) at Hawthorne.
This year's edition drew a field of six. For the crown jewel in the Treasure Chest, look no further than the Illinois-bred: DIVA'S DIAMOND. She faltered last out in the Spinster, but that was a Grade I at Keeneland. She will not run into the likes of Got Lucky, Untapable, Yahilwa, or Frivolous here, and has repeatedly proven herself in races at this level (and even a bit better, as she was second behind Untapable in the GI Apple Blossom this year). She is the type who does not need to take a track with her, as she has won at four different tracks. In terms of pace, DIVA'S DIAMOND should be well set. She does her best work sitting just off the pace, and should be able to keep the likes of WALK OF STARS and JULIE'S JEWELRY square in her crosshairs. As long as she bounces back to her old self here, likely given the class drop out of such an ambitious spot, her form fits this race beautifully. This durable six-year-old races for sharp Louisiana connections, as well. 39% trainer Karl Broberg conditions her, and 29% rider Colby Hernandez gets in the irons. As a pair, they are firing at 41% over 49 starts over the last two months. Hernandez has also ridden this mare a few times before, making this not just a "let's throw the local jockey on blind". Finally, if the bit of rain in the forecast comes into fruition, DIVA'S DIAMOND has a 5-3-1-0 career line over off dirt.
Despite the fact that she comes in off of a disappointing sixth in an allowance at Keeneland, HAUNTED HEROINE should not be taken lightly in the Treasure Chest. That came on turf, but she returns to a dirt mile here. In two tries going a mile on the main, HAUNTED HEROINE got her picture taken both times. Though she does not have the early speed to jet out with a WALK OF STARS or a JULIE'S JEWELRY -- or even a DIVA'S DIAMOND, if she were to send -- she does not need it. She should be sitting off, just a length or two back, and her excellent late pace should have her barreling at the leaders in those final stages of the race. She has some speeds that are quite competitive, and her humans make her even more live. She races for 42% local trainer Bret Calhoun, and rider Richard Eramia (who won with her two starts ago) gets back in the irons for this race.
The morning line favourite is JULIE'S JEWELRY, which jumps out as odd because Ben Colebrook's runners typically go off at somewhere between a square price and bomb odds. She has bullring form at Charles Town, where she missed by a neck in the seven-furlong Yellow Ribbon Stakes in September. That outing was particularly interesting, in that she usually does her best work on the front end, but chased (and just missed catching) WALK OF STARS that day. Maybe she is not complete one-way speed. That was her first race off a layoff, and she should be better here third off the lay. Still, at short odds with a horse (WALK OF STARS) who will keep her away from her absolute best trip, JULIE'S JEWELRY is more of a defensive cover than anything else here...and gets the nod over KYRIAKI for third, as she does have some bullring form (and some outside-of-California form) to her credit.
#2 DIVA'S DIAMOND (7/2)
#3 HAUNTED HEROINE (8/1)
#6 JULIE'S JEWELRY (2/1)
Longshot: The longshot writer got locked out of the treasure chest, and unfortunately left their lockpicks at home. -- NN
Race 9: Sam's Town Stakes, three-year-olds, non-winners of a sweepstakes, seven furlongs on the dirt, post time 5:15 CDT
#4 JUST KISSING BUCK (2/1)
#3 THIRTYSILVERPIECES (5/2)
#6 FINISHLIKEAPRO (9/2)
Longshot: #5 SIERRA DELTA (20/1) -- PM
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