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Road to the 2013 Kentucky Derby: The Jackpot Just Got Smaller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the prize of the 2-yr-old season has been awarded to Shanghai Bobby the year is not over yet and there are more Kentucky Derby qualification points to be earned. The post Breeders’ Cup Stakes races kick off this weekend with the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes, the first of four remaining races on the 2012 calendar.  

 
 
Remsen Stakes – Aqueduct   11/24
Kentucky Jockey Club – Churchill Downs 11/24
CashCall Futurity – Hollywood Park 12/15
 
 
Though we still have a long way to go the Jackpot Stakes does feature horses that should get our attention. Wherever small points are earned eventually lead to the big ones and this race is no exception. But, before we jump to who’s who in the 2012 we have to refresh everyone on where this race has stood on the road to the Kentucky Derby.
 
 
The most interesting factor about this race and its role in the Kentucky Derby qualification process is the big difference between the old system and the new system. Until this year the $1 Million purse made the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes one of the most criticized races on the Kentucky Derby trail. In fact it’s very plausible to say that this race served as a key example of why the old system was eventually thrown out.
 
 
Often described as an overvalued stakes, the Jackpot became known as an easy way into the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby. This often created a problem as well as many arguments. By winning the Jackpot a horse and its connections cleaned house and took home a whopping $600k of graded stakes earnings. While it was hard earned money in the bank it could never answer why it should automatically qualify them for a birth into the Kentucky Derby. Secondly, the track record of the winners hasn’t been very pleasing either. Since the inaugural running in 2002 no winner has claimed the roses. In addition, of the three horses that elected to use the win to their advantage none of them we’re able to finish inside the top 5 on the first Saturday in May.
 
 
However, that was then. Now under the new rules the next winner will have to return stronger than ever in the 3-yr-old season if they want to race against the elite of their class. For the better this also means that there will no longer be any arguments about the winner and if they deserve a place in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. So, now may be the best time for a winner to make an impression.  With that said let’s look at who could emerge as a 2013 Kentucky Derby contender.
 
 
Where we begin is with the horses that have already established themselves as those that are targeting the Kentucky Derby. Although he is not the favorite the horse that gets my attention is Bern Identity. Why is simple. It’s mainly because only two months ago this horse seemed destined to be racing in at least one of the Juvenile Division races at the Breeders’ Cup. Instead, Bern Identity was put on alternate route and he thrived.
 
 
After breaking his maiden in his 2nd attempt at Belmont Park this summer Bern Identify fired again on a much larger scale. His win in the G2 Sanford Stakes was brilliant and set him up for a test against Shanghai Bobby in the 7 Furlongs G2 Hopeful Stakes. In the end it wasn’t his day and he finished third. Because it was his first race at a distance over 6 furlongs the resounding prediction was that he would be sent to Santa Anita for the Juvenile Sprint. That of course was only until an audible was called.
 
 
On October 20 Bern Identity got a head start at Delta Downs in the non graded Jean Lafitte Stakes. Let’s just say the decision was a good one as his first race at a distance of at least 1 Mile is when Bern Identify showed much more. His 3 length victory over 1 Mile was burning with confidence against a weaker field but he delivered in convincing fashion. Opting out of the Breeders’ Cup paid off and the decision may have set Bern Identity up for a perfect trip in today’s Jackpot Stakes.
 
 
Though I began with the second choice on the morning line the favorite still deserves his due. The best way to describe Goldencents is lightly raced but battle tested. Trained by Doug O’Neill this colt has earned his keep so far. Following a huge career debut and maiden win, 7 ½ lengths, Goldencents flew out of Southern California to try his talent against the leader on the east coast. Unfortunately, Shanghai Bobby couldn’t be touched in the G1 Champagne Stakes so Goldencents settled for 2nd place.
 
 
Whenever a young horse has raced very little yet always performs is when the jury tends to agree that the upside has yet to be discovered. I can’t argue that case with Goldencents but to put him ahead of Bern Identity is something that only a win by Goldencents will force me to do. I think his 3-yr-old season is brighter but for now I have to consider Bern Identity a step ahead.
 
 
One thing I do really like about Doug O’Neill is that he is never afraid to put his horses on the move. Know More is his second entry in the Jackpot but also his second entry that will be racing outside of California for the very first time. Comparable to Bern Identity early on in their 2-yr-old season is when this colt seemed certain for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Parallel again is when an audible was called. Instead the connections that include owner Paul Reddam opted instead for the Juvenile Turf. But here is where there is a big difference. This change in plans didn’t work out so well. In his first ever race on the Turf Know More was nonexistent. Coupled with bad position and a very wide trip Know More staggered in at second to last in the 14 horse field.
 
 
So will he rebound. Considering his valiant score in his first ever race, the G2 Best Pal Stakes, followed by back to back 2nd place finishes in the Del Mar Futurity and the FrontRunner Stakes I would say the answer is yes. But if you asked me to bet it I would be reluctant. I may change my mind but out of the two Doug O’Neill entries I would give the advantage to the favorite.
 
 

The last horse I’m going to cover is a true Breeders’ Cup tested horse and a proven winner. That’s what you get called when you win a Breeders’ Cup race. Hightail, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, hit it big in the Juvenile Sprint after paying $32.80 to win and banking $270k in purse earnings. Before his epic win I wouldn’t declare him a relative unknown but rather an also ran. Prior to making his splash he had zero wins in eight lifetime starts and failed to hit the board in four graded stakes starts. Because of his unpredictable win after a rocky start I’m not really sure what to make of his chances in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes. What I do know is that D. Wayne Lukas is legendary and that even though I won’t be wagering on him I won’t be surprised if he repeats his Breeders’ Cup performance. 

 

Race 7 - Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes

Purse 1,000,000 | 1 1/16 Mile | Dirt | Post Time 4:15 

 

PP HORSE JOCKEY TRAINER ML ODDS
1 Bern Identity  P. Lopez  K. Breen 7-2
2 Heaven's Runway  C. Marquez  B. Chatters 20-1
3 Central Banker  M. Mena  A. Stall, Jr. 6-1
4 Mylute  G. Melancon  T. Amoss 15-1
5 Hightail  R. Maragh  D. Lukas 9-2
6 Itsmyluckyday  A. Serpa  E. Plesa, Jr. 8-1
7 Know More  M. Gutierrez  D. O'Neill 4-1
8 Show Some Magic  R. Eramia  S. Asmussen 20-1
9 Goldencents  K. Krigger  D. O'Neill 5-2

 

 

Good luck to our Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes entries. We hope for a good trip, a safe return and to see you again on the road to the 2013 Kentucky Derby.  

 

What the Nation is saying about Road to the 2013 Kentucky Derby: The Jackpot Just Got Smaller...

Good point. This field definitely has potential and has a few that could return to the Derby Prep scene as a contender.
It's funny now that the Jackpot is not as important to qualifying for the Kentucky Derby that it has attracted one of its strongest overall fields.

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