Trainer Kelly Breen and owners George and Lori Hall are no strangers to the Louisiana Bayou. After last night, neither is there star juvenile, Bern Identity. Deep down in Louisiana, close to New Orleans, and ridden with complete confidence by jockey Paco Lopez, the bay son of Bernstein outclassed a field of eight two-year-old colts to score an emphatic victory in the $200,000 Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs.
Breaking smoothly from his inside post position, Bern Identity sat comfortably behind the early leaders before swinging outside to attack when asked. Moving quickly up to the front on the far turn, the heavy favorite took his cue from Lopez, and by the time the field came spinning out of the tight far turn at Delta Downs, he was in complete control. With Lopez peering over his shoulder a few times to check his competition, the two-time stakes winner cruised home, easily maintaining his three length advantage over runner-up Mylute to the wire, with the rest of the field far back.
For Breen and the Halls, it marked their second straight win in the rich prep for the richer Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot, having shipped in My Adonis for victory in the Jean Laffite last year. They then watched that colt press a fast pace before finishing off the board in a return trip four weeks later while in search of Southern Louisiana riches… riches that they have been after for a few years now.
The trio has taken other shots to win the lion’s share of the $1,000,0000 Jackpot in recent years. In 2008 they ran Westside Bernie, who finished second to the future champion Big Drama, and two years later they returned with Sweet Ducky, who would finish fourth to Gourmet Dinner. This year they look to have their best chance yet in Bern Identity.
The winner of the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga in July, Bern Identity is out of the Good and Tough mare Maddalena, and was a $75,000 yearling purchase last fall at Keeneland. With last night’s score, he raised his record to 3-of-5 lifetime. After finishing a good second in his debut in May at Belmont Park, he came back at that same track to demolish a maiden special weight field by 13 ¾ lengths. Following the Sanford win, he was beaten by the current leader of his division, Shanghai Bobby, when third in the Hopeful.
Delta Downs does not often attract graded stakes winners from New York prior to their million dollar signature race, but Breen wanted to let Bern Identity become familiar with the racing surface. Mission accomplished for the colt that only arrived to Louisiana on Thursday. Now it will be on to the big one for Bern Identity, and for Kelly Breen and George and Lori Hall, who look to be holding a very strong one-horse card for this year’s $1,000,000 Jackpot, to be run on November 17.
Photo courtesy of Coady Photography