Royce Jaime's Perfect Moon, a two-time graded stakes winner while sprinting, was installed the 5-2 morning line favorite for the $1-million Delta Jackpot Friday night at Delta Downs in Vinton, La.
With purses fueled by slot revenue rising to new heights at Delta Downs, the Jackpot's purse is the second richest for a 2-year-old race this year, only behind the $1.5 million for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
With a cool million on the table, nine males and one filly have passed the entry box, with horses coming from all over North America taking a shot at a true jackpot. Also, with no clear-cut choice for 2-year-old champion this year, its not unconceivable that Jackpot winner could be in the mix for an Eclipse Award.
Horses entered have made their last starts in New York, California, Kentucky, Texas, and Canada, as well as Louisiana.
Perfect Moon, from the first crop of sire Malibu Moon rose to the top level of this year's juvenile contingent while winning the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr .III) in July and the Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar in August for trainer Mel Stute. Stute purchased the colt for $4,700 out of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale and the horse raced for Stute's wife, Annabelle. In early September, it was reported Perfect Moon was sold for a price in the "mid-six figures" to Royce Jaime. He is now trained by Doug O'Neill, fresh off saddling Fleetstreet Dancer to an upset score in the $2-million plus Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I).
In his last start, Perfect Moon was third behind runaway winner Rulers Court in the Norfolk Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita at the Jackpot distance.
Canadian-based Judiths Wild Rush was made the 3-1 second choice for the Jackpot. Bred in Kentucky by Sez Who Thoroughbreds, the Wild Rush colt is unbeaten in three starts at Woodbine for the Tenenbaum Racing Stables and trainer Scott Fairlie. Winner of a $50,000 maiden claimer first time out, Judiths Wild Rush rolled to a 10-length victory in his last start, the 1 1/16-miles Display Stakes, at Woodbine on Nov. 15.
With a $1-million purse, one can expect trainers Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher to find a horse in their deep shedrows for the race. Baffert has entered a pair in Cooperation and Consecrate (both owned by James McIngvale) while Pletcher will send out Tales of Glory.
Cooperation, a Halo's Image colt, was second behind Lion Heart in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) on Nov. 15. He has but a maiden victory to his credit, but he has faced nothing but stakes company since. Consecrate, by Silver Charm, also has run only in stakes since a Del Mar maiden win, and was fourth in the Prevue in his last effort.
Tales of Glory, by Honour and Glory, rolled to a 6 1/2-length victory against allowance foes going a mile at Aqueduct in his last effort on Nov. 16. Tales of Glory is owned by Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, the same crew that owns top 2-year-old sprinter Chapel Royale.
The lone filly in the field is America America, an 11-1 winner of the Sam Houston Texan Juvenile in her 16th start as a juvenile. The daughter of Mister Baileys began her 2003 odyssey at Gulfstream Park in April, then made seven starts in Europe before returning to North America to run at Woodbine, Keeneland, Belmont, Delta Downs, and then Sam Houston Race Park. She was fifth in the seven-furlong Chargedup Stakes at Delta Downs on Nov. 7.
Joe Six Pack, a son of Silver Deputy owned by Gary and Mary West, figures to be the strongest of the local contigent. The Cole Norman-trained gelding won the one-mile Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs on Nov. 8 by two lengths over Mr. Jester. Kaaren Biggs' Mr. Jester was making his first start since being placed first via disqualification in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) at Turfway Park in mid-September.Delta Jackpot, $1,000,000, 2-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, Delta Downs, Friday, Dec. 5.
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Odds
1, America America, Robby Albarado, Frank Mourier, 20-1
2, Perfect Moon, Victor Espinoza, Doug O'Neill, 5-2
3, (e)Cooperation, Alex Solis, Bob Baffert, 7/2
4, Mr. Jester, Roman Chapa, Steve Wren, 10-1
5, Judiths Wild Rush, Dino Luciani, Scott Fairlie, 3-1
6, Tales of Glory, John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher, 6-1
7, (e)Consecrate, David Flores, Bob Baffert, 7/2
8, Joe Six Pack, Carlos Gonzalez, Cole Norman, 8-1
9, Rush Into Heaven, Iggy Puglisi, Paul Aguirre, 20-1
10, Fire Slam, Shane Sellers, David Carroll, 15-1
(e) Bob Baffert-trained, James McIngvale-owned entry