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Feature Race Analysis

  Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes - Grade 3
  Race 7 at Delta Downs
  Saturday, November 17 - Post Time 5:15 PM E.T.
  One mile and one sixteenth, for Two Year Olds
  Purse: $1 million

Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes Features Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint Winner

By Ellis Starr - National Racing Analyst for Equibase

     The 10th running of the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot brings together a field of nine two-year-olds and although it offers the runners a big purse it no longer has the impact in terms of next year’s Kentucky Derby as it has in years past. That is because the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" is now based on points in designated races rather than on earnings, with the Delta Downs Jackpot afforded the same number of points as 18 other races that occur in the fall and winter.

     Still, $1 million is nothing to sneeze at and as such the race has attracted a nice group, led by Hightail, who earned his first career win when victorious in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint just two weeks ago. Hightail's biggest challenge should come from Bern Identity and Mylute, one-two finishers of last month's local prep for the Jackpot, the Jean Lafitte Stakes. Another who has every right to succeed is Goldencents, last seen finishing second to subsequent Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. Know More, who hails from the same Doug O’Neill barn as Goldencents, finished second in the Grade 1 Frontrunner Stakes in October before a poor 13th-place showing in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Itsmyluckyday enters the Jackpot on the heels of two stakes victories in a row, most recently in the Foolish Pleasure Stakes, so is another with his eye on the prize. Central Banker finished second in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes in September and returned from a six week rest to win powerfully last month so he could be another contender provided he takes to the two-turn trip he is trying for the first time. Heaven's Runway won the Fitz Dixon, Jr. Memorial Stakes in September but subsequently finished seventh in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes. Show Some Magic, who has run poorly in both stakes tries to date, rounds out the field.

     Bern Identity won the Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs last month, not only earning a career best 99 Equibase Speed Figure but also the best last race figure in the field. Two races prior to that, Bern Identity won the Sanford Stakes in fine fashion to prove he belongs with the top two-year-olds. Having successfully navigated this oval and coming off a powerful three length victory, Bern Identity gets the ground saving rail for the Jackpot and should be in a great stalking position in the early stages behind likely dueling leaders Heaven's Runway and Goldencents, which could help set up his second straight stakes victory.

     Hightail showed a lot of maturity and guts when rallying along the rail and in tight quarters to sneak by leader Merit Man in the stretch to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint by a nose, getting his first career victory in the process. Earning a career best 98 Equibase Speed Figure, just one point shy of the 99 figure Bern Identity earned in his recent stakes win, the only real difference in the probability of success in the Jackpot between Hightail and Bern Identity is that Hightail's win came in a one-turn race at the distance of six furlongs (three-quarters of a mile) whereas Bern Identity won at the distance of a mile around two turns. Still, it won't take much improvement at all for Hightail to run well enough to win this year's Jackpot.

     Mylute was clearly second in the Jean Lafitte, although three lengths behind Bern Identity still four lengths clear of the third finisher. Having improved to a career best 94 with that effort in his first ever two-turn race on a conventional dirt surface, Mylute is another that could benefit from a hot early pace battle between Heaven's Runway and Goldencents and could improve enough to post the mild upset win in this race.

     The rest of the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures, is Central Banker (93), Goldencents (99), Heaven's Runway (96), Itsmyluckyday (88), Know More (93), and Show Some Magic (92).


My Selections:
  •    Bern Identity
  •    Hightail
  •    Mylute

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