Jockey Javier Castellano celebrates his win in the Delta Jackpot Stakes aboard Gunnevara
2016 Delta Downs Jackpot Day Stakes Results
The $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (G3) is the highlight of the racing season at Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana. Run at 1 1/16 miles for 2-year-olds, it is a key Triple Crown prep as it is worth 10 points in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" system used to determine the Derby field. Conditions were excellent on Saturday afternoon, with clear skies and temperatures near 60. A full field of 10 went to post with Saratoga Special (G2) winner Gunnevara sent off as the 11-4 favorite off his 5th place finish in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice J Boys Echo, a maiden winner last out in his second start, and 4-1 third choice Hot Sean, winner of 2 straight in allowance company.
Gunnevara wins the Delta Jackpot
Hot Sean was quickest away through an opening quarter of 23.18 before 7-1 fourth choice Our Stormin Norman took over on the clubhouse turn through fractions of 47.05 and 1:12.52. Turning for home, Our Stormin Norman tired badly as favorite Gunnevara, last for 5/8 mile, circled the field on the far turn to take over at the top of the lane through 1 mile in 1:38.64. Kept to task by jockey Javier Castellano, Gunnevara powered away to a 5 3/4 length win in 1:45.15 over the fast main track. It was another 4 lengths back to late-running 19-1 Dangerfield third.
Right: Gunnevara in the post parade. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "He's a come from behind horse, and I wanted to see how the race unfolded in the first turn. I wanted to take advantage of the early speed and save ground and it worked out perfectly. When I asked him a little bit (on the backstretch) he responded with a beautiful stride. He's a great developing horse and the way he finished, I think he will get better with more distance. (Trainer) Antonio Sano took a lot of patience (with this horse) and it paid off."
Left: The trophy celebration in the winner's circle. Winning owner Jaime Diaz said, "We are a new barn but we are having a good time taking it race by race. He exceeded our expectations with the way he ran. We think he is going to develop into a very fine horse but we have to wait and see. We are one of the little guys and we are trying to get where the big guys are. We will probably run in Florida and likely point to the Fountain of Youth Stakes along the way."
Right: The jockeys for the Jackpot Stakes from left to right: Robby Albarado, C.J. McMahon, Florent Geroux, Julien Leparoux, Flavian Prat, Javier Castellano, Channing Hill, #8 Martin A Pedroza, Kent Desormeaux, and Gerard Melancon.
Left: Second place finisher Hot Sean returns after the race. The Bob Baffert trainee improved his record to 2 wins and 2 seconds in 4 starts, earning $255,000 for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman.
Right: Third place finisher Dangerfield. The Doug O'Neill trainee improved his record to 1 win, 1 second, and 1 third in 5 starts, earning $147,480 for owners W.C. Racing and Zayat Stables LLC.
Shane's Girlfriend wins the Delta Downs Princess Stakes
The distaff counterpart to the Jackpot is the $400,000 Delta Downs Princess Stakes (G3) for 2-year-old fillies going 1 mile around 2 turns of the tight 6 furlong oval. Golden Mischief was the 11-4 favorite in the full field of 10 off a 3 race win streak including the My Trusty Cat Stakes, the major local prep for this event. In to challenge her included 7-2 second choice Shane's Girlfriend, a debut winner by 5 3/4 lengths last out at Santa Anita, and 5-1 third choice Dude Fantasy., undefeated in 2 starts including the Florida Sire My Dear Girl Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Jockey C.J. McMahon sent 19-1 Flatter Up to the lead first time by and she set fractions of 23.06, 47.16, and 1:11.71 while pressed by Shane's Girlfriend and stalked by 11-2 Caroline Test. Entering the stretch, jockey Flavien Prat asked Shane's Girlfriend for run and she easily took over, drawing off to a 13 1/4 length win over late-running 8-1 Cajun Delta Dawn in a new stakes record of 1:37.98. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to Flatter Up third, while favorite Golden Mischief checked in 7th.
Full results chart
Winning trainer Doug O'Neill said, “She's a filly that's acted like two turns won't be a problem. You never know until you try it.” Co-owner Dennis O'Neill added, "She had worked like a really good filly all along. She's nice and she'll keep going. She's just really, really classy."
Hesinfront (outside) wins the Delta Mile Stakes
A field of 7 older horses contested the $250,000 Delta Mile Stakes at 1 mile. 4-5 favorite Rise Up was allowed an uncontested lead of as many as 7 lengths through fractions of 23.25, 46.99, and 1:12.17. Rise Up led to the 1/8 pole but tired as 8-1 Hesinfront, 6th early under Robby Albarado, rallied and outfinished 9-2 Great Minds by a head in 1:38.64. It was a nose back to 21-1 Pinson third, and a head more to Rise Up fourth.
Winning jockey Robby Albarado said, “He’s a nice horse. I’ve ridden him quite a few times.”
Four Leaf Chief wins the Louisiana Legacy Stakes
A full field of 10 Louisiana-bred juveniles went to post in the $150,000 Louisiana Legacy Stakes over 1 mile. 34-1 Il Est Vite set the pace of 23.11 and 47.87 while prssed bu 10-1 Walking in Faith, who took over on the far turn through 3/4 in 1:13.69. In the lane, 15-1 Magic Vow, 4th early under Kerwin Clark, rallied wide to win by 1 1/4 lengths over 2-1 Lucky Andy in 1:40.80. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to even-money favorite Jack's Snipe third.
The $150,000 Louisiana Jewel Stakes featured a field of 10 Louisiana-bred 2-year-old fillies going 1 mile. 7-5 favorite Naughty Little Nun dueled with 9-1 Show'em the Heat and 49-1 Ivana's Wish through fractions of 23.33, 47.37, and 1:13.39. Naughty Little Nun led to midstrech but 12-1 Sashimi Blaster, last early under Gerard Melancon, rallied late to win by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:42.17. It was a length back to Show'em the Heat third.
The $150,000 Treasure Chest Stakes featured a short field of 4 older fillies and mares going 1 mile. 20-1 Vieja Luna dueled with 9-1 Brook's a Bookin through fractions of 23.39, 47.90, and 1:12.72. 3-10 favorite Savings Account, who stalked the pace third under Florent Geroux, rallied past the pacesetters to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Vieja Luna in 1:39.53. It was another 3 3/4 lengths back to 9-5 second choice Danzatrice third.