Earlier today, pre-entries for the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (gr. III) at Delta Downs were announced, and it looks like the 8.5-furlong race is set to draw an excellent field! Scheduled to be run on November 21st, the Jackpot is an official Kentucky Derby prep race, offering a total of 17 qualification points to the top four finishers, and as a million-dollar race, it usually draws a strong field of two-year-old horses vying for a prestigious win. Here’s a quick rundown of each horse to give you a feel for what you’ll see in the race!
After finishing second in his debut at Presque Isle Downs, Cowboy Classic has run four times since then but has yet to win, most recently finishing a distant fourth in a one-mile race at Delta Downs on October 23rd. He’ll be a big longshot, but has a decent late run and could be rallying late if the pace is fast.
Winner of the Saratoga Special (gr. II) back in August, Exaggerator has since run second in the Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), a pair of solid efforts that could stamp him as the favorite for this race. As a son of Curlin, he should only get better with age, and I think he has potential to be one of the best colts in his crop next year. The question is, how will he handle the tight turns at Delta Downs?
Trained by Al Stall, this son of Uncle Mo began his career with a couple of solid efforts in quality maiden races at Saratoga and Belmont (Sheikh of Sheikhs, Portfolio Manager, Gift Box, and Tom’s Ready were the horses that beat him), then shipped to Delta Downs and won the one-mile Jean Lafitte Stakes in impressive fashion. His proven form at Delta is a valuable asset, and could make him a dangerous contender in this race.
Doug O’Neill won this race in 2012 with Goldencents and could send Found Money for this year’s renewal. Found Money opened his career with a pair of wins at Santa Anita, including the Santa Anita Juvenile Stakes, and after a fifth-place finish behind Nyquist and Swipe in the Best Pal Stakes (gr. II), Found Money ran second in a pair of California-bred stakes races at Del Mar. He’s got a lot of speed and has been consistent, but this will mark his first start beyond seven furlongs, which could be a question mark.
Harlan Punch won his debut at Ellis Park in impressive fashion and unleashed a big rally to run second in the Jean Lafitte Stakes last time out. A son of Harlan’s Holiday, Harlan Punch is another colt that should be rallying strongly at the finish if the pace is fast.
After a fourth-place finish in his debut at Thistledown, this promising runner flashed much more speed in his second start at Thistledown, pressing the pace before drawing clear to win by 3 1/4 lengths. He’s stretching out in distance from six furlongs, but could definitely be a pace factor and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Memories of Winter
This son of Hard Spun is unbeaten in two starts at Monmouth and Laurel, including a solid win in a one-mile allowance race last time out. Unlike many of his rivals, he’s proven around two turns and has plenty of speed, but can he translate his good form to Delta?
After three solid efforts on turf, this son of Twirling Candy finished fourth in his debut on dirt in the FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita, but the top two finishers in that race were Nyquist and Swipe, who came back to run 1-2 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. At first glance, his form isn’t the best, but his proven form over fairly tight turns on the Del Mar turf course suggest that he could be a factor at Delta, and I think he’s a major contender to win this race.
With ten starts under his belt, Roman’s Chance is the most experience colt in the race, and while he’s yet to win a race, he did turn in a career-best effort to finish second in a one-mile and seventy-yard maiden race at Gulfstream Park West on October 31st.
After a couple of very nice runs on turf, including a third-place finish in the Bourbon Stakes (gr. III), Siding Spring ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and was beaten just five lengths while finishing tenth. Trained by Mark Casse, Siding Spring has a nice blend of tactical speed and finishing kick, which could be well-suited to the Jackpot Stakes.
The Sapling Stakes winner surprised many when finishing second in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont, but his overall record suggests that he is a very talented colt that is improving with every start. He’s also been successful pressing the pace and coming from a few lengths back, which is an advantage.
His only win from six starts came in a maiden claiming at Lone Star, but he showed a liking for Delta when finishing third in the Jean Lafitte Stakes. He did finish 4 1/2 lengths behind the second-place finisher, and will need to improve to contend in the Delta Jackpot, but I wouldn’t count him out of the mix for securing a spot in the superfecta.
Of all the horses in this race, Whitmore is one of the ones I’m most excited about. He was nominated to the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes before he’d ever run in a race, and in his debut sprinting six furlongs on November 6th at Churchill, he tracked fractions of :21.62 and :45.78 before seizing command and drawing off to win by 7 1/4 lengths in the sharp time of 1:10.50 seconds. Trained by Ron Moquett, this son of Pleasantly Perfect looks like a very, very promising colt, and I can’t wait to see how he fares in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to sign up for email newsletters and special offers from The Turf Board!