Kentucky Derby hopefuls square off in the Grade III, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes this Saturday. A field of ten has assembled at the Louisiana oval for their share of one of the richest purses for two-year-olds in the country. There are also Kentucky Derby points on the line: 10 to the winner down to one point for the fourth-place finisher. Going as the seventh race on the program, post time for the 1 1/16th-mile Jackpot is 5:45 p.m. EST. Plenty of top-class pilots will be shipping in for this one, so be sure to handicap this race carefully if you’re taking part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
#6 GUNNEVERA was installed as the 5-2 favorite and lures Javier Castellano, but I fail to see the appeal. After winning the Saratoga Special, GUNNEVERA unsuccessfully attempted to stretch out in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. His fifth-place finish there inspires no confidence that he’ll handle the distance today.
I settled on local favorite #2 LINE JUDGE (6-1) as the likeliest winner. He scored in the Jean Lafitte Stakes, the Delta Downs prep for this race, in convincing fashion over #10 TIP TAP TAPIZAR last month in his first try around two turns. He’s now three-for-four lifetime for trainer Joe Sharp, who once again names C.J. McMahon to ride.
Another appealing win candidate is #8 HOT SEAN (7-2). He ships in for Hall-of-Famer Bob Baffert, and will once again have Martin Pedroza aboard. He was a fast-closing second in his debut at Del Mar after breaking slowly, then reeled off two straight victories at Santa Anita. He’s gradually added more distance every start and has answered the bell each time. This will be HOT SEAN’s first stakes try, but his speed figures suggest he is up to the task.
Finally, a decent case can be made for #4 OUR STORMIN NORMAN (8-1), a Mark Casse runner who keeps Julien Leparoux in the saddle. He debuted at five furlongs on dirt and lost to TIP TAP TAPIZAR, but he was off poorly. His connections tried him as a turf horse after that, but he didn’t really take to the surface in three tries. Placed back on dirt last month, OUR STORMIN NORMAN dominated a group of maidens on the front end at Keeneland. His pedigree says he can handle this distance, so look for him to be involved late.
The play: $2 exacta box 2/4/8, $4 win 2 ($16)
DFJ analysis: Julien Leparoux ($9,000) has a good shot to hit the board in the richest race of the day with OUR STORMIN NORMAN. In the second-richest race on the card, the $400,000 Delta Princess, he’s on a quality runner in Caroline Test (4-1). He also rides heavy favorite Kathballu in the Orleans Stakes and The Truth Or Else in the Sam’s Town Stakes. Leparoux is a great value play this Saturday.
Martin Pedroza ($7,000) rides HOT SEAN, who could very well win the Delta Jackpot, but he only has one other mount on the card; Jilly (6-1) in the Delta Princess. He’s a bit of a gamble, but if you need an inexpensive rider to round out your stable you could do a lot worse.
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