03/11/2008 11:00PM

Delta Downs: Melancon having record meet


Jockey Gerard Melancon's decision to ride full time at Delta Downs for the first time since 1989 has been a lucrative one. He set a single-season record for wins by a jockey at the track last Saturday night, when he picked up his 122nd victory of the meet. Melancon also has set the mark for mount earnings in a season, with $2,440,920.

The previous season record of 121 wins was shared by Tracy Hebert and Guy Smith. The previous earnings mark of $2,415,745 had been held by Hebert.

Melancon, 40, said that aside from setting the win record and finishing third by a neck in the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot, his personal meet highlight came in November, when he won the $150,000 Jean Lafitte aboard Golden Yank.

"Winning the Jean Lafitte was always my goal, because since I was like 13 years old that was always the big race everybody shot for," he said. "It used to be a half-a-mile race. Now, it's a mile race. But winning that race was special to me."

Melancon decided to spend the winter at Delta to be closer to his family, which lives 45 minutes from the track in Lafayette, La. In the past, the rider had been based at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Melancon's supporters this meet include Keith Bourgeois and Sam Breaux, who are one-two in the standings at Delta, as well as Fair Grounds-based horsemen Tom Amoss and Steve Asmussen.

Melancon's other notable wins this meet include the $75,000 Green Oaks with Alina, who rolled to an 18 3/4-length victory to earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 100.- Mary Rampellini