Cal Invader Texcess Rakes in Delta Jackpot

California-bred gelding Texcess shook loose on the turn for home under a vigorous ride from Victor Espinoza and outlasted his rivals for a popular victory in the rich $1 million Boyd Gaming's Delta Jackpot for 2-year-olds Saturday at Delta Downs.

The 7-5 choice in the field of 10, Texcess, an $85,000 In Excess offspring, won by 1 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:48 2/5 for the 1 1/6-mile event contested on the six-furlong oval at Vinton, La.

"I was impressed with the horse," Espinoza said. "He has such a big stride. It seems like one of his strides is equal to three for some other horses."

Closing Argument held off the late-flying Anthony J. by a nose for second in the Delta Jackpot, which was run for the third time. The race gets a grade III rating in 2005.

Texcess took the lead from Cherokee Path, who carved out a fast early pace of :22 4/5 :46 2/5. They slowed considerably from there – the six-furlong split was 1:12 2/5 as Texcess pulled his way to the front and the mile went in 1:40 4/5. He was never challenged after opening up by about three lengths in the lane.

Paul Aguirre trains and owns Texcess, who earned $600,000 for the victory, in partnership with Omar Aldabbagh. Texcess has won three of four career starts with one second (by a head) and boasts a bankroll of $725,427. Aldabbagh said after the race that Texcess would be rested and then brought back for next year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail.

"He's a definite possibility for the Kentucky Derby. It's still early, but
I believe he can do it," said Espinoza, who rode War Emblem to victories in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (both gr. I).

The only previous stakes win for Texcess came in a six-length triumph in the California Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Oct. 16. Texcess defeated open company for the only time in his last start, a $46,000 allowance race at Hollywood Park Nov. 14.

Bred by Ron E. Gomez, Texcess is out of the Regal Classic mare Danish Alamode.

Texcess paid $4.80, $3.40 and $2.60. Closing Argument, who was rated off the early pace and was making up ground gradually in the stretch for Cornelio Velasquez, returned $5.80 and $4.20. Anthony J., ridden by Jose Velez, was moving best of a tired group in the stretch but came too late, showing for $5.20.

My Parade, Cherokee Path, Funk, Leaving On My Mind, Accurate, United and Major League rounded out the finish.

(Chart, Equibase)