The $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot for 2-year-olds on Saturday has the strongest field for a juvenile stakes this season. And that includes the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile won by Shanghai Bobby.
I predicted that the Juvenile would be watered down by the double whammy of a ban on Lasix in the Breeders’ Cup 2-year-old races and the new Kentucky Derby point system instituted by Churchill Downs. Many 2-year-olds that ordinarily would have run in the Breeders’ Cup have been rerouted elsewhere by their connections.
For example, a big horse that skipped the Breeders’ Cup was Uncaptured from trainer Mark Casse. Uncaptured was sharp in winning the Iroquois at Churchill and now will be pointed to the Kentucky Jockey Club. He is a lock to win the Sovereign Award as Canada’s best 2-year-old.
I expect other black-type runners to show up in coming weeks in the Remsen at Aqueduct and the Cash Call Futurity at Hollywood Park. Meanwhile, the Delta Downs Jackpot attracted the best field in its 11-year history.
Goldencents (5-2) is the Jackpot favorite off a good second to Shanghai Bobby in the Champagne at Belmont Park. It was only his second career start for trainer Doug O’Neill, who this spring won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with I’ll Have Another.
O’Neill has another strong uncoupled entry-mate in Know More (4-1), who is off a miserable try in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. The colt never extended himself in his grass debut, so O’Neill is drawing a line through that noneffort.
Bern Identity (7-2) will garner much support off winning the Jackpot prep, the Jean Lafitte, also at Delta Downs. This summer Bern Identity won the Sanford at Saratoga and was third behind Shanghai Bobby in the Hopeful.
Hightail (9-2) won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint and thus will stretch out in distance on short rest. The D. Wayne Lukas colt broke his maiden in the Sprint as the longest price on the board at 15-1.
My choice to upset the Jackpot is Itsmyluckyday (8-1). An angle I’ve done well with is betting Calder shippers at value odds. For some reason, handicappers do not respect Calder horses, and it has been proven over and over again to be a big mistake.
Itsmyluckyday has won two stakes at Calder. He is sired by Lawyer Ron out of a Doneraile Court mare, suggesting that, moving forward, two-turn races will not be an issue.
■ DELTA JACKPOT CONTEST – Coast Casinos, in conjunction with the Delta Downs Jackpot race, will host a $10,000 handicapping contest Saturday in The Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast and Sam’s Town race books. The event, which has a $20 entry fee, will feature five stakes on the Jackpot card, and first prize is $5,000 with payouts to fifth place.
Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.