Even-money choice Rule took the $750,000 Boyd Gaming's Delta Jackpot (gr. III) (VIDEO) in tenacious style at chilly Delta Downs Dec. 4, winning a virtual match race with Uh Oh Bango by a neck on a sloppy track.
WinStar Farm's 2-year-old Kentucky homebred was ridden to victory on the front end by John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher. The winning time for the 1 1/16-mile distance was 1:45.63 over a sealed surface.
Rule, who won the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs in track record time (1:37.45 for the mile) in preparation for this, was pressured throughout by Uh Oh Bango after going directly to the front. The son of Roman Ruler --Rockcide (by Personal Flag) ran his winning streak to three races.
"He had to work today," Velazquez said. "It was a little different than it was when he was here before, quite a bit heavier. Once I got after him, he put in a good fight. It was well done. He wasn't allowing (Uh Oh Bango) to go by. He did just enough."
With Uh Oh Bango, ridden by Glenn Corbett, pressing on his outside, Rule posted quarter-mile splits of :23.24, :46.75, and 1:12.12. He opened up a one-length lead after six furlongs, but in the stretch run he could not shake loose of the pesky Arizona-bred ridgling Uh Oh Bango, who was coming off a runner-up finish in the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs Nov. 1. Grand Slam Andre and second choice Gallant Gent raced together behind the leaders down the backstretch, but the Southern California shipper Gallant Gent, never happy down on the inside in the slick going, dropped out before six furlongs were completed.
Rule and Uh Oh Bango battled all the way to the wire, with Rule prevailing under urging from Velazquez. Oak Motte, who took up the chase with Diego Saenz aboard on the final turn, made a mild bid to get third, 2 3/4 lengths behind Uh Oh Bango.
Beginning his career in New York, Rule finishing third in his maiden debut at six furlongs at Belmont Park July 19 prior to a runner-up showing at Saratoga over seven furlongs Sept. 5. He won at Belmont in a one-turn mile as the favorite Oct. 8, leading to his two starts at Delta Downs. His career mark stands at 3-1-1 in five races with earnings of $596,700. The Delta Jackpot win was worth $450,000.
Rule paid $4, $3, and $2.60. Uh Oh Bango returned $5.40 and $4.20 and completed a $22.60 exacta. Oak Motte, who ran third in the Jean Lafitte as well, was $4.20 to show.
It was nearly 11 lengths to Litigation Risk in fourth, followed by Grand Slam Andre, My Time to Star, Gallant Gent, and Bench the Judge.