11/14/2016 4:46PM

Balandeen's last race pushes him into Delta Jackpot field

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Horses are often best judged by the company they keep, and one of the reasons Balandeen has landed in Saturday’s Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot is how well he ran against a good horse in his last start.

The Jackpot, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds, will anchor a card of eight stakes worth $2.3 million at Delta Downs, the richest program of the year at Delta.

Balandeen finished second at 19-1 on Oct. 30 in the $83,000 Street Sense at Churchill Downs. The winner, McCraken, is unbeaten in two starts.

:: Delta Jackpot: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live

Balandeen’s performance put him on the road to Louisiana, trainer Chris Hartman said.

“He ran a good race,” Hartman said. “He was outrun by a very nice horse. I mean, the horse that beat him, McCraken, looks to be a very serious individual, so we’re taking a chance. You don’t get a lot of opportunities at a million-dollar stakes.”

Hartman also likes the move from a one-turn mile at Churchill to two turns and 1 1/16 miles for Balandeen.

“I don’t foresee a problem,” Hartman said. “He’s going to take the two turns and more distance. He’s going to eat that up. He’s a very sensible horse, easy to ride, and he should be able to handle it very good.”

Balandeen is a son of Bernardini and the mare Mamma Kimbo, who registered her biggest win at 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 2 Fantasy at Oaklawn. Balandeen was a $110,000 purchase at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. auction of 2-year-olds in April.

“He worked extremely good, and we liked him,” Hartman said.

Balandeen races for Joe Davis, a Dallas-based owner who long has had horses with Hartman. Balandeen had won a maiden race at Del Mar and a first-level allowance at Churchill in his two starts leading up to the Street Sense. Balandeen is based at Churchill and was due to arrive Monday afternoon at Delta, Hartman said.

Channing Hill has the mount from post 7.

Jockeys make Delta debuts

Jockeys Tyler Gaffalione and Flavien Prat are among a handful of riders who will be making their Delta Downs debuts Saturday. Gaffalione, a leading rider in Florida, has the mount on the undefeated Dude Fantasy in the Grade 3, $400,000 Delta Downs Princess.

Prat, who is leading the standings at Del Mar, has been named on Dangerfield in the Delta Downs Jackpot, Shane’s Girlfriend in the Princess, and supplement Sammy Mandeville in the $250,000 Delta Mile. The three horses are trained by Doug O’Neill.

Other riders making their first appearances at Delta include Martin Pedroza, who will be in from Southern California to ride Hot Sean in the Jackpot and Jilly in the Princess. Both horses are trained by Bob Baffert.

Hill is set to make his Delta debut aboard Balandeen in the Jackpot, while Juan Leyva’s first local mount is scheduled to come in the Princess aboard Cajun Delta Dawn.

◗ Diego Saenz had a commanding lead in the Delta rider standings heading into Wednesday night’s card, with 25 victories. He is a multiple title winner at Delta.

◗ Karl Broberg is chasing his sixth training title at Delta and led the standings into Wednesday night’s card. He’s won 15 races at the meet, which is a focal point for his operation.

“It will be a full-out assault,” he said. “That’s where my farm is. That’s just our spot.”

◗ Louisiana will have three tracks in action Saturday. In addition to Jackpot Day at Delta in Vinton, Fair Grounds starts it season in New Orleans and the $1 million Louisiana Quarter Horse Association Breeders’ Futurity will be run at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas.