WinStar Farm had three Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brand (gr. I) starters a year ago. The way things are looking right now, that number has the potential to grow in 2010.
Already with several promising Derby prospects, Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt’s powerful Kentucky operation will send out yet another good-looking 2-year-old in the $750,000 Boyd’s Gaming Delta Jackpot Powered by Youbet.com (gr. III) when Rule leads a field of eight in the Dec. 4 contest at Delta Downs.
Rule, a homebred son of Roman Ruler, set a one-mile track record (1:37.45) at Delta Downs Nov. 6 when he took the Jean Lafitte Stakes by nine lengths for Todd Pletcher. That winning experience over Delta’s tricky, six-furlong oval should give the dark bay colt an edge in the 1 1/16-mile, two-turn contest.
Rule, who is out of the Personal Flag mare Rockcide, has won two starts in a row for Pletcher. The stakes victory came one month after breaking his maiden at Belmont Park at the same distance. John Velazquez will have the mount.
Because of its lucrative purse, the Jackpot virtually guarantees a Derby berth to the winner, if the connections want it. WinStar is off to a fine start in getting back to the Classic with multiple horses once again, as it scored victories in the Hollywood Prevue (gr. III) and Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) with American Lion and Super Saver last month, respectively, and has a couple other juveniles ready to take on stakes company.
Also coming out of the Jean Lafitte are the second, third, and fourth place finishers, Grand Slam Andre, Oak Motte, and Bench the Judge, respectively. Grand Slam Andre has already raced eight times for Steve Asmussen and has a pair of minor stakes wins at Lone Star Park and Remington Park.
Though Rule (5-2) looks imposing, he is not the Jackpot morning-line favorite. That honor went to Six-S Racing Stable, Robert Miller, Joe Valenti, and Nick Petralia’s Gallant Gent, the seventh-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) Nov. 7 at Santa Anita in his only try on grass. Gallant Gent, a son of Yankee Gentleman, was also a sharp third to Lookin at Lucky in the Oct. 4 Norfolk (gr. I) on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface.
Trained by Craig Lewis, Gallant Gent (2-1) was plucked out of a $40,000 maiden claimer in his racing debut at Hollywood. He has won three of six starts thus far, including the $50,000 C. B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at Fairplex. The gelding will break from the rail under Kent Desormeaux, who will ride for the first time.
A strong case can also be made for the third choice, Triple AAA Ranch’s Uh Oh Bango (4-1), an Arizona-bred ridgling by Top Hit. Trained by Kory Owens, Uh Oh Bango broke his maiden by eight lengths at first asking at Prairie Meadows this summer and two starts later recorded the highest 2009 Beyer Speed Figure for a juvenile to date (102) while winning the Prairie Meadows Juvenile Stakes. Most recently, he ran second by a length in the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs in his first big-time test.
Undefeated in two starts is My Time to Star from the barn of Dale Romans. The Illinois-bred colt romped to a seven-length win in the Sun Power Stakes at Hawthorne Oct. 31. He is owned Heiligbrodt Racing, the leading owner at Delta Downs in 2008-09. Robby Albarado will be in the irons.
Post time for the Delta Jackpot is 9:34 p.m. CDT, two races after the $500,000 Boyd Gaming's Delta Princess Powered by Youbet.com (gr. III).
$750,000 Delta Jackpot (gr. III, Race 9, 9:34 p.m.), 2YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Gallant Gent (KY), K J Desormeaux, 119, C A Lewis
2. Uh Oh Bango (AZ), G W Corbett, 119, R K Owens
3. Rule (KY), J R Velazquez 119, T A Pletcher
4. Grand Slam Andre (KY), S J Sellers 119, S M Asmussen
5. Litigation Risk (FL), J Castellano, 117, R A Violette, Jr.
6. Bench the Judge (KY), G Melancon, 119, G Smith
7. My Time to Star (IL), R Albarado, 119, D L Romans
8. Oak Motte (TX), D Saenz, 119, T M Amoss