Boyd Gaming’s Delta Downs to host $2.3 million race card Saturday

There is a tendency after the Breeders’ Cup to relax and feel like the racing season is over. Far from it. Other than Christmas Day, horse race betting is available 364 days a year.

In fact, one of the year’s biggest cards will be Saturday at Delta Downs in Vinton, La. The $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot for 2-year-olds heads an eight-stakes program worth $2.3 million. On the undercard is the $500,000 Delta Princess for 2-year-old fillies.

Boyd Gaming owns Delta Downs. It’s great to see a casino company doing more than just counting slot machine receipts from the racetrack. Boyd is reinvesting in the horse racing product.

Some of that largesse will reach us in a $10,000 handicapping tournament offered at five local Boyd properties — Fremont, Gold Coast, The Orleans, Sam’s Town and Suncoast. The entry fee is $20, and first prize is $5,000. The contest races will be the sixth through the 10th at Delta Downs.

The Jackpot is a race worth watching because the first two finishers will make enough graded money to make next spring’s Kentucky Derby field. Classic Legacy (6-1) provides local interest because Las Vegas residents Terry Lanni and Bernie Schiappa privately purchased him. Bob Baffert will train the Macho Uno colt.

Baffert is acquiring Kentucky Derby prospects by the bunch. Owner Ahmed Zayat is moving Norfolk winner Jaycito to Baffert from the Mike Mitchell barn. Jaycito ran poorly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but remains highly regarded.

A filly I like in the Princess is Fiscal Policy (9-2) from the Tom Amoss barn. She won the Bassinet at River Downs last time out. Amoss is using top Delta rider Gerard Melancon, which is an edge over the tricky six-furlong oval.

My long-shot play on the card comes in the $125,000 Delta Mile. First Regent (10-1) is fond of the Delta surface and has improved tremendously since Allen Milligan claimed him.

Delta is usually a nighttime track but will race in the day on Saturday. First post is 11 a.m.

■ PICK SIX WINNERS — The local economy got a boost from two big pick six winners in Las Vegas. On Breeders’ Cup day at Wynn Las Vegas, a player who asked to remain anonymous nailed the pick six for $800,160. Then on Sunday, turf writer Steve Davidowitz won one for $135,719 at Aqueduct while betting at the Red Rock Resort. The pick six remains a thinking man’s lottery and is worth playing, especially when there is a large carry-over.

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com.

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