The top two morning-line choices for the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. III) pit east vs. west, but the connections of each of the 10 juveniles entered have reason for optimism.
Every horse in the field has won in at least one of his past two starts and seven enter off of victories.
Delta Downs drew its Jackpot card early, as the 1 1/16-mile race will be contested Nov. 19. The card also features the $400,000 Delta Downs Princess Stakes (gr. III) for juvenile fillies and seven other stakes. Last year's Delta Jackpot winner Exaggerator went on to win this year's Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
As for that coast vs. coast battle in the Jackpot, Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II) winner Gunnevera, the 5-2 favorite who made his first three starts at Gulfstream Park, will face Hot Sean, a fast-improving son of Flatter for trainer Bob Baffert. Hot Sean is the 7-2 second choice.
Peacock Racing Stables' Gunnevera will be making his first start since finishing fifth in the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) Oct. 8 at Keeneland. Trained by Antonio Sano, Gunnevera entered that 1 1/16-mile race off back-to-back wins sprinting, taking a July maiden race at Gulfstream before registering a clear victory in the Saratoga Special.
Gunnevera, by Dialed In , will get the services of multiple Eclipse Award-winning rider Javier Castellano, who guided him to victory in the Saratoga Special.
Karl Watson, Michael Pegram, and Paul Weitman's Hot Sean won at second asking Oct. 1 at Santa Anita Park, where he secured a clear victory in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race. He then successfully stretched out to two turns, winning an allowance/optional claiming race by 1 1/4 lengths Oct. 27 at Santa Anita.
Trainer Doug O'Neill, who won the 2012 Delta Jackpot with Goldencents, has entered W. C. Racing and Zayat Stables' Dangerfield, a son of Into Mischief who picked up some respect with a 4 1/2-length score in the Oak Tree Juvenile Stakes Oct. 1 at the Oak Tree at Pleasanton meet in Northern California.
The field also includes two-time stakes winner Line Judge, who secured that second stakes score in the local prep to the Jackpot, the one-mile Jean Lafitte Stakes Oct. 22. The other stakes winner in the field is New York-bred Pat On the Back.
Thirstforlife earned a grade II placing in this year's Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) and enters off an Oct. 20 allowance win at Keeneland.
The Delta Princess will see Golden Mischief, by Into Mischief, put a three-race win streak on the line, a stretch that includes a score in the Oct. 21 My Trusty Cat Stakes at Delta, where she starts from the rail in an expected field of 10. Breaking from the outside will be Donald Dizney Florida-bred Dude Fantasy, who enters off a victory in the Florida Sire My Dear Girl Stakes Oct. 1 at Gulfstream.
Delta Downs Racetrack, Saturday, November 19, 2016, Race 7 Delta Downs Racetrack, Saturday, November 19, 2016, Race 6
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Pat On the Back (NY) Robby Albarado 119 Kenneth G. McPeek 15/1 2 2Line Judge (KY) C.J. McMahon 119 Joe Sharp 6/1 3 3Thirstforlife (KY) Florent Geroux 117 Mark E. Casse 8/1 4 4Our Stormin Norman (KY) Julien R. Leparoux 117 Mark E. Casse 8/1 5 5Dangerfield (KY) Flavien Prat 119 Doug F. O'Neill 12/1 6 6Gunnevera (KY) Javier Castellano 122 Antonio Sano 5/2 7 7Balandeen (KY) Channing Hill 117 Chris A. Hartman 10/1 8 8Hot Sean (KY) Martin A. Pedroza 117 Bob Baffert 7/2 9 9J Boys Echo (KY) Kent J. Desormeaux 117 Dale L. Romans 8/1 10 10Tip Tap Tapizar (LA) Gerard Melancon 119 Steven M. Asmussen 10/1
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Golden Mischief (KY) Gerard Melancon 119 Steven M. Asmussen 7/2 2 2Jilly (KY) Martin A. Pedroza 117 Bob Baffert 6/1 3 3Caroline Test (KY) Julien R. Leparoux 117 Ben Colebrook 4/1 4 4Forest Circle (KY) Colby J. Hernandez 117 Michael Stidham 15/1 5 5Flatter Up (KY) C.J. McMahon 117 W. Bret Calhoun 10/1 6 6San Antonio Stroll (TX) Ted D. Gondron 117 Danny Pish 20/1 7 7Chanel's Legacy (IA) Robby Albarado 119 Lynn Chleborad 12/1 8 8Shane's Girlfriend (FL) Flavien Prat 117 Doug F. O'Neill 6/1 9 9Cajun Delta Dawn (FL) Juan C. Leyva 119 David Fawkes 6/1 10 10Dude Fantasy (FL) Tyler Gaffalione 119 Ralph E. Nicks 9/2
Delta Downs Racetrack, Saturday, November 19, 2016, Race 7
Delta Downs Racetrack, Saturday, November 19, 2016, Race 6