Delta Jackpot Wagering: Looking for Identity of Early Derby Contenders

A field of nine head to the gate in Saturday's $1 million Delta Jackpot

A field of nine will head to the gate on Saturday in the $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3) at Delta Downs, with a $600,000 payday to the winner along with 10 points as part of the new “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series of races designed to get the best 20 three-year-olds to the starting gate on the first Saturday of May.

This year’s Jackpot drew a solid group of runners including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Hightail (9-2) and Champagne (G1) runner up Goldencents (5-2).

Others with stakes wins include Bern Identity (7-2), Heaven’s Runaway (20-1), Itsmyluckyday (8-1), and Know More (4-1).

The Delta Jackpot is one of eight stakes on the card with more than $2.2 million in purses up for grabs. Post time for the opener on the card is 1:15 CT.

Since 2002 six runners have competed in the Delta Jackpot and gone on to run in the Run for the Roses the following spring. The most notable is Closing Argument, who ran second in both races, completing the exacta in the 2005 Kentucky Derby behind Giacomo at betting odds of 71-1. The $2 exacta with Giacomo, who was sent off at 50-1 returned $9,814.80.

The race preceding the Jackpot is the $500,000 Delta Princess (G3) for two-year-old fillies which drew a  competitive field of nine.

Madame Cactus won the My Trusty Cat, the local prep for the race, while others that figure to be in the mix include Cassidy runner up Touch Magic, Adirondack (G2) runner up Salamera, and Presque Isle Debutante winner Unhedged.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct, Churchill Downs, and Delta Downs.

Included in the report will be selections for the $150,000 Discovery Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct, and the $100,000 Commonwealth (G3) and $175,000 Mrs. Revere (G2) from Churchill Downs.

Let’s head out to Delta Downs for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

Delta Downs Race 7 The $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3) Post time 4:15 CT

1. Bern Identity   7-2

9. Goldencents   5-2

7. Know More   4-1

6. Itsmyluckyday   8-1

Bern Identity is coming off a good looking score in the Jean Lafitt, the local prep for the this race. The colt stalked the early pace, came with a four wide run and drew clear to win by three lengths as the heavy favorite, his third win in five career starts. Two back at Saratoga he ran third in the Hopeful (G2), beaten 4 ½ lengths by Shanghai Bobby, who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita. The colt has a nice pedigree, by Bernstein out of the stakes winner Maddalena ($250K). He is one of two graded stakes winners in the field having won the Sanford (G2) at the Spa in his first start against winners back in July.

Goldencents was a much the best maiden winner at Del Mar over polytrack in his debut, and then shipped east where the Doug O’Neill trainee set the early fractions and could not hold off Shanghai Bobby in the Champagne (G1), settling for the runner up spot. This will be his first start around two turns and while he was up on the pace in his first two starts, there are several in here that look quicker, and breaking from the far outside could put him at a disadvantage here unless Krigger can tuck in and save some ground going around that first tight turn on the six furlong track.

Know More is also sent out by O’Neill and the connections were so high on this colt they put him in the Best Pal (G2) in his debut and he got the job done at 8-1. He ran second in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) on poly and the Frontrunner (G1) at Santa Anita in his first start around two turns. They decided to go in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1)which to me was a head scratcher. The colt was caught out wide and never did threaten in a  13th place finish. The return to dirt suits and he figures to bounce back with a much better effort here.

Itsmyluckyday invades from Calder where he won back to back stakes, last out taking the Foolish Pleasure in a good looking effort.  Two runners came out of that race to win allowance races in their next starts while the runner up Sr. Quisqueyano came back to run second in the Florida bred Jack Price Juvenile on Nov. 10. Worth tossing in the mix here if he goes off near his 8-1 morning line.


WIN: Bern Identity to win at 5-2 or better.

EXACTA: 1,9 / 1,6,7,9

TRIFECTA: 1,9 / 1,6,7,9 / 1,5,6,7,9


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