Delta Downs Gearing Up for $500,000 Jackpot

Delta Downs' new stakes coordinator Steve Nick is working the phones to see how many of the 73 juveniles nominated to the track's $500,000 Delta Jackpot will be coming to Louisiana. The race is not a graded event, but it is one of the richest 2-year-old races around. The one-mile event will be run Dec. 21 at the track in Vinton, La. On the same day the grade I Hollywood Futurity offers a purse of only $200,000.

Nick said he expects trainer Steve Asmussen to start at least one runner in the event--he has six nominated--but he's not sure which horse will make the trip. Asmussen's nominees are Demopolis, Mr. Decatur, Northdrop, Posse, Ring of Power, and Shawklit Man.

California-based Bob Baffert has four horses who are eligible, including Kafwain, the horse with the highest earnings among all nominees. At this point, the Norfolk Stakes (gr. II) winner isn't scheduled to make the trip, but Baffert also has Desert Warrior, Spensive, and Truckle Feature, who are possibles.

Another trainer with a handful of nominees in his barn is Kenny McPeek. Tops among his eligibles are Collateral Damage and Ten Cents A Shine.

Part of Nick's challenge is getting trainers to travel to a new track. Until recently, Delta didn't have big enough purses to bring shippers from much further than Louisiana or Texas. In addition, the track is only a six-furlong oval. Delta Downs' purses have been boosted with the addition of slot machines, which opened in February. In the first three months of operation with slots, the track earned $32 million in revenue. The Delta Jackpot was announced in September.

The day before the Jackpot, the track will host the Delta Princess. That race originally offered a $100,000 purse, but it has been upped to $250,000. Forty-four fillies are nominated, including Atlantic Ocean, Elegant Designer, Belle of Perrintown, Sea Bloom, and Tulupai.