Saturday marks the 12th annual $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes at Vinton, Louisiana's Delta Downs Racetrack. It is a Grade III race featuring two-year-old horses that gears some up for the impending Triple Crown season.
Last year's champion, Goldencents, who was notable for his association with Louisville basketball head coach Rick Pitino and jockey Kevin Krigger, ran in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The horse also won the Santa Anita Derby before the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.
Two other Kentucky Derby runners entered the field last season: Itsmyluckyday and more notably Mylute, who placed third in the Jackpot Stakes.
Mylute competed in the Derby and the Preakness Stakes, finishing fifth and third respectively. Rosie Napravnik registered the highest finish by a female jockey in Triple Crown history at Pimlico.
Thus, the action at Delta Downs will be important to monitor as 2013 winds down, so let's take a look at when and where to catch the action, along with a preview and predictions in this 8.5-furlong jaunt.
Note: Statistics and race history are courtesy of Equibase.com unless otherwise indicated.
When: Saturday, Nov. 23; Post time is approximately 4:15 p.m. CDT, per BloodHorse.com.
Where: Delta Downs Racetrack in Vinton, La.
TV: TVG Network & HRTV
|1||Whyruawesome||Eddie Martin Jr.||Anne P. Smith||10-1|
|2||Coastline||Shaun Bridgmohan||Mark Casse||5-2|
|3||Roman Unbridled||Kevin J. Smith||Chad Cook||30-1|
|4||Mighty Brown||Miguel Mena||Tim Ice||12-1|
|5||Rum Point||Mario Gutierrez||Doug O'Neill||5-1|
|6||Flat Gone||Diego Saenz||J. Keith Desormeaux||20-1|
|7||Rankhasprivileges||Robby Albarado||Kenneth McPeek||15-1|
|8||Casiguapo||Luis Saez||Mario Morales||4-1|
|9||Big Bazinga||Rosie Napravnik||Katerina Vassilieva||12-1|
|10||Rise Up||Gerard Melancon||Timothy Hamm||3-1|
Source: USAToday.com and HorseRacingNation.com
After finishing in second place aboard Will Take Charge at the Breeders' Cup, jockey Luis Saez will utilize that momentum to find the winners' circle in this race.
Casiguapo is also a stellar horse and is a precocious two-year-old in that he came in fourth place in the Grade 1 Foxwoods Champagne Stakes and runner-up in the Hopeful Stakes before that.
In this year's Jackpot is Casiguapo (4-1), who was 2nd behind Strong Mandate in #Saratoga's Hopeful at 30-1. Coastline (5-2) your favorite— Tim Wilkin (@tjwilkin) November 19, 2013
The caliber of competition Casiguapo will be facing is far lesser at this race, and it's no surprise he checks in as the No. 3 favorite in the early odds.
One of the few concerns regarding the venue of Delta Downs is that the 8.5-furlong dirt track is longer than what Casiguapo has run on in the past at the Champagne Stakes (eight furlongs) and in the Hopeful Stakes, which were seven furlongs.
Granted, it is a fan survey, but HorseRacingNation.com's power rankings have Casiguapo's rating at 7.34—well higher than that of 5-2 favorite Coastline (5.67) and Rise Up (5.59).
While he might not be the favorite, look for Casiguapo to race to victory with Saez aboard.
Place: Big Bazinga
Who will win the Delta Jackpot Stakes?
Having an experienced jockey in the saddle can't be discounted, which is why Big Bazinga is a wild-card horse to watch.
Napvravnik excelled in this race last year with Mylute and has an underdog to thrive with this time around, too. Big Bazinga came in second in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes, showing an ability to compete in races of this magnitude.
Although the margin of victory was seven lengths, Big Bazinga did travel 8.5 furlongs on the Woodbine dirt in Toronto, so this distance is at least familiar to the horse.
A little more than a month before then, Woodbine Racetrack was the site of Big Bazinga's debut, which yielded a win in a maiden special weight race.
Starting in post No. 9 will almost force Big Bazinga to keep up with whatever pace Rise Up and Casiguapo establish on the outside. That should keep Napravnik in the hunt and allow her and Big Bazinga to register a surprise finish in the money.
Show: Rum Point
Trainer Doug O'Neill won't get a win this time around as he did with Goldencents in 2012, but a third-place effort isn't a bad followup act.
Rum Point has been thrown into the proverbial fire in being entered into three Grade 1 races in the past three months, most recently finishing 12th out of 13 horses in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
But a similar strategy worked in Goldencents' favor, when he was entered into the aforementioned Champagne Stakes before this race and finished second, then went on to win.
O'Neill is confident in his colt despite the lack of supreme results, per the Daily Racing Form's Mary Rampellini:
I think he’s a special colt. 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.
All that racing in such a short time will benefit Rum Point at Delta Downs, but it will also prevent him from having enough at the end to triumph.
Mario Gutierrez is the jockey, which will help. With the positivity generated from this result, Rum Point's prospects ahead of the Kentucky Derby could look great if Gutierrez is still around to ride him, since Gutierrez has won both the Derby and the Preakness before.