Updated on 11/21/2011 3:31PM

Delta Downs: Sabercat springs $18 upset in Jackpot for Asmussen

Coady Photography
Less than 24 hours after winning his 6,000th career race, trainer Steve Asmussen picks up another big win with Sabercat in the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot.

VINTON, La. - Trainer Steve Asmussen’s weekend to remember got even sweeter on Saturday, when Sabercat recovered from a troubled start to post a sweeping, four-length win in Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot. Basmati finished second in what was one of the year’s richest races for 2-year-olds, while it was another 2 /2 lengths back in third to Longview Drive.

The Jackpot was the centerpiece of an eight-stakes program at Delta Downs. The races were worth a cumulative $2.1 million. 

Asmussen, who on Friday night won his 6,000th race as a trainer, sent Sabercat in for the Jackpot off a six-length win in the $75,000 Garden State at Monmouth Park on Oct. 2. The horse broke out at the start Saturday, was bumped soundly, and had just one horse beat into the first turn as My Adonis and Drill went at it through an opening quarter in 22.11 seconds and a half-mile in 45.41.

Sabercat ($18) still had work to do when Drill took over through six furlongs in 1:11.60, with the eventual winner advancing between rivals past the quarter pole. Sabercat then angled out into the stretch and closed with good energy to cover the 1 1/16 miles, on a track rated fast in 1:46.62.

“We had a terrible start,” said Gerard Melancon, who rode Sabercat. “We got slammed pretty good leaving there and all I could do save ground.

“He came through horses like a champ, and was all business.”

Sabercat won his maiden in his fourth career start, at Monmouth Park on Sept. 5. He advanced to the Garden State, and dominated by six lengths in his stakes debut. From that point, he came under consideration for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, said owner Ron Winchell. But he said that the horse fell “out of rhythm,” and the decision was made to pass the Juvenile. .

“Our back-up plan was the Jackpot,” he said.

Sabercat earned $600,000 for his win in the Jackpot, the kind of graded money that should ensure him a spot in next year’s Kentucky Derby.

“We’ve got a ways to go to get there [but] that would be a good dream,” said Winchell.

The Jackpot was the final leg of a $100,000 guaranteed pick four. The winning sequence of 4-2-2-8 paid $6,087.60 on a $2 bet. The pool for the all-stakes wager was $202,967.

The remaining order of finish in the Jackpot was Seven Lively Sins in fourth, followed by Laurie’s Rocket, Jake Mo, Drill, who was the favorite, Tiz Moe, My Adonis, and Dougs Buddy.

* Delta handled $4,434,089 on its 11-race card Saturday, which shattered the track's all-time record handle of $3.8 million. The previous record was sent on the Jackpot card in 2010. Attendance figures are not available for Delta, a racino that offers free admission.