11/15/2012 5:47PM

Delta Downs: Brethren looking for a step forward in Delta Mile

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Barbara D. Livingston
Brethren’s biggest win has been the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs in 2011.

Ron Winchell purchased 70 percent interest in Brethren this summer in part because he felt the half-brother to 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver had “stallion potential.” But that’s for another day. Winchell said his immediate goal with Brethren is to “get him back at a graded stakes level,” and on Saturday the horse will move closer to that objective when he starts in the $150,000 Delta Mile.

The race, which is one of eight stakes on the $2.2 million Jackpot Day at Delta Downs in Vinton, La., is not graded, but it might as well be. The field of seven older horses includes Pants on Fire, winner of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in 2011; Prospective, who won the Grade 2 Tampa Derby in March; defending Delta Mile champ Decisive Moment; and Hurricane Ike, a Grade 3 winner and a threat to wire the field Saturday.

[DELTA JACKPOT: Get PPs, watch full Saturday card live]

Brethren, whose biggest win came in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa in 2011, has the speed to keep Hurricane Ike in his sights. He used front-running tactics to win his last start, an allowance at Remington Park on Sept. 28. Brethren defeated two horses who both came back to win stakes in their next start – runner-up Fifth Date at Remington, and third-place finisher Global Stage at Zia Park. The score was a satisfying one for Winchell.

“He’s our project horse,” he said. “We’re hoping he kind of takes a step forward. I think he has a lot of talent. We have to figure out how to tap it . . . no pun intended.”

Winchell, who with his mother, Joan, owns half of the shares in the stallion Tapit, co-owns Brethren with WinStar Farm. Steve Asmussen has trained Brethren since Winchell bought in, and if the horse wins Saturday he would give Winchell and Asmussen their second stakes score at a mile in the last two weeks. The first came on Nov. 3, when Tapizar captured the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

“That would be nice,” said Winchell.

“That was our first Breeders’ Cup win,” Winchell said of his family, including his late father, Verne. “It’s something my dad and myself had been chasing for years.”

For the Delta Mile, Gerard Melancon has the mount on Brethren. A year ago, Melancon teamed with Winchell and Asmussen to win the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot with Sabercat.

Treasure Chest flush with stakes winners

There are eight fillies and mares set to start in the $150,000 Treasure Chest at a mile, and among them they have won 21 stakes races. Ruby’s Big Band has nine of those wins, while She’s Prado’s Idol will be looking for her sixth stakes win of the year in the Treasure Chest.

The race also drew Remit, a two-time stakes winner who will be making one of the final starts of her career, said her owner, Winchell. Last year, Remit put up her best career Beyer Speed Figure, a 91, when she ran second in the Treasure Chest. Bella Medaglia won, and defends her title Saturday.

Also in the field is Chernomorochka, who has never been beaten on dirt in five starts on such surfaces. Overall, she is 5 for 6.

◗ The $70,000 Orleans for 3-year-old fillies who have never won a stakes is the first leg of a $100,000-guaranteed pick four that runs from races 4-7. The bet has a 50-cent minimum. Swift Artist, who has placed in three stakes, leads the field as a half-sister to recent Grade 2 Mazarine winner Spring Venture. Rajiv Maragh has the mount for trainer Mark Casse. The $70,000 Sams Town for 3-year-olds who have never won a stakes drew Donoharm, a winner of three of his last four starts, all for trainer Bret Calhoun. The race, like the Orleans, will be run at seven furlongs, which is a two-turn configuration at Delta.

◗ Palmy Bay will attempt to stretch his speed around two turns in the $150,000 Louisiana Legacy, a one-mile race is for 2-year-olds bred in Louisiana. Palmy Bay, the 12-length winner of the Louisiana Stallion Stakes at Louisiana Downs in his last start Sept. 22, gets pedigree support for the distance test. His dam has produced five route winners, including two-turn stakes winner Martin’s Bay. Richard Eramia has the mount for trainer Pat Mouton. The chief threat appears to be Mr. Bandini’s Band.

◗ Sittin At the Bar will be the shortest-priced favorite on the card if she goes in the $150,000 Louisiana Jewel. But the 2-year-old filly is also cross-entered in the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess after having finished second in the local prep, the $150,000 My Trusty Cat. Sittin At the Bar would be returning to the Louisiana-bred ranks if she goes in the Jewel. She is trained by Brett Brinkman, who has another strong Jewel entrant in stakes winner I Dare U Em.

◗ The Delta card can be watched on DRF.com.