03/15/2012 4:27PM

Delta Downs: Melancon tries to end meet on high note aboard Amazing Saint


Jockey Gerard Melancon can close out what has been a roller-coaster Delta Downs meet with a stakes win in Saturday night’s $60,000 Bonne Chance for fillies and mares. He will ride leading contender Amazing Saint in the one-mile race, which is the first of two stakes on the closing-night 12-race program. The other stakes, the $60,000 Au Revoir, also at a mile, is led by And Music Came and Sligo Joe.

Melancon was on fire as the Delta meet opened this past fall, winning the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot aboard Sabercat on Nov. 19. It was the richest race of his career, and as the months rolled on he continued to pile up the wins while working on his third title at Delta. But on Jan. 13, everything stopped. Melancon, 44, went down hard in a spill and he broke his collarbone and 10 ribs in injuries that sidelined him through March 3.

“I had a horse fall with me on the lead, and he just pretty much didn’t give me a warning,” Melancon said. “I don’t know if he tripped or what, but he just fell straight down with me.”

Melancon was leading the standings by 17 wins at the time of the spill. He stayed in the hospital a couple of days, then eventually began a rehabilitation that included using an Equicizer. Melancon resumed working horses a week before he returned to action at Delta. His first winner back came on March 9, aboard DeShivers.

Melancon said the January injuries were the second worst of his career. He has won 3,851 races from 26,061 mounts since he began riding in 1984. His first career win came at Delta Downs. Melancon, whose mounts have earned more than $60 million, won the most prestigious race of his career with Bonapaw, in the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park in 2002.

Following the Delta meet, he will ride at Evangeline Downs. He currently ranks fourth in the standings at Delta.

Amazing Saint has won four of her last five starts and could go favored in the Bonne Chance, which is restricted to horses who have started for a claiming price at Delta since Oct. 18, 2011. She was claimed for $30,000 out of her last race, a 1 1/4-length win going seven furlongs. Brent Delahoussaye trains the mare for William Whitley.