Bern Identity drew the rail in the Delta Downs Jackpot.

Bern Identity drew the rail in the Delta Downs Jackpot.

Coady Photography

Major Stakes Horses Clash in Delta Jackpot

Goldencents and Bern Identity are among the major players in the $1 million test.

The $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. III) Nov. 17 drew a strong field of nine, highlighted by several top-class stakes horses from New York to California.

The 1 1/16-mile event drew the winners of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Santa Anita Park, Sanford Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course, Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar, Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs, and Foolish Pleasure Stakes at Calder Casino & Race Course, as well as the runners-up in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park, Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) at Del Mar, FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita, Prairie Meadows Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows, and the third-place finisher in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga.


One of those vying for favoritism will be Bern Identity, a three-length winner in the Jean Lafitte over the Delta Downs track to go along with his victory in the Sanford and third in the Hopeful. Trained by Kelly Breen for George and Lori Hall, the son of Bernstein drew the rail, and although he showed speed breaking his maiden at five furlongs at Belmont, he has come from off the pace in each of his subsequent races. He will be ridden by Paco Lopez, who rode him for the first time in the Jean Lafitte.


At the opposite end of the starting gate will be Goldencents , the highly touted Doug O’Neill-trained son of Into Mischief  who came east off only a 5 1/2-furlong maiden victory at Del Mar to run a gutsy second to the undefeated Shanghai Bobby  in the Champagne Stakes. He passed the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) because he wasn’t nominated and instead tuned up for the Delta Jackpot by working six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 at Santa Anita Nov. 7. He has been made the 5-2 morning line favorite and once again will be ridden by Kevin Krigger.


O’Neill will have a strong two-pronged attack with the addition of Paul Reddam’s Know More, winner of the Best Pal in his career debut. The son of Lion Heart followed that up with second-place finishes in the grade I Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner Stakes. It was decided to try the grass for the first time in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I), but the colt never picked up his feet after racing wide, finishing 13th. He returns to the dirt, where he was second in the FrontRunner. Mario Gutierrez will replace Garrett Gomez.


It wasn’t a surprise to see D. Wayne Lukas wheel Hightail  right back off his 15-1 upset victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, in which he just got up along the rail to nip the favored Merit Man by a nose in 1:09.75 for the six furlongs for his first career victory. The son of Mineshaft , owned by Bluegrass Hall, will be making his 10th start this year. He will break from post 5 under Rajiv Maragh, who was aboard for his Breeders’ Cup victory.


The Delta Jackpot is far from a three or even four-horse race. You have to respect Calder shipper Itsmyluckyday , a winner of three of his five starts for Eddie Plesa Jr., including a three-length score in the Foolish Pleasure in his last start. Prior to that the son of Lawyer Ron won the Fasig-Tipton Dash at Calder and was a close third in the Tyro Stakes at Monmouth. He will break from post 6 under Angel Serpa.


Also coming in with good credentials is Mylute, a son of Midnight Lute  trained by Tom Amoss, who was second in the Jean Lafitte following a fifth-place finish in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) and a close second in the Prairie Gold Juvenile.


And there is Central Banker, who is coming off an impressive five-length score in an allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs for Al Stall. Prior to that, the son of Speightstown  was second in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile on the grass.


Rounding out the field is Heaven's Runway, winner of an overnight stakes at  Presque Isle Downs, and Show Some Magic, fifth in the Hopeful and eighth in the Jean Lafitte.


Delta Downs Jackpot, $1 million, 1 1/16 miles




1—Bern Identity/Kelly Breen/P. Lopez

2—Heaven’s Runway/Bernard Chatters/C.L. Marquez

3—Central Banker/A. Stall/M. Mena

4—Mylute/Tom Amoss/G. Melancon

5—Hightail/D. Wayne Lukas/R. Maragh

6—Itsmyluckyday/Ed Plesa Jr./A. Serpa

7—Know More/Doug O’Neill/M. Gutierrez

8—Show Some Magic/Steve Asmussen/R.A. Eramia

9—Goldencents/Doug O’Neill/K. Krigger