11/17/2011 2:23PM

Delta Jackpot: Despite good resume, Drill no cinch


Drill will be the most accomplished horse to ever start in the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot on Saturday, but despite the presence of a Grade 1 winner the race looks far from lopsided. Drill is looking to rebound from a 10th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and has nine developing 2-year-olds to fend off in the Jackpot.

The diverse field includes Longview Drive, a full brother to Pyro who enters off back-to-back stakes wins in Northern California; Seven Lively Sins, who in his stakes debut just missed in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs; My Adonis, who dominated the local prep, the $200,000 Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs, upon his arrival from Monmouth Park; Basmati, who has been chasing Drill in Southern California; and Dougs Buddy, an undefeated stakes winner from Edmonton, Canada, making his first start on Lasix.

“It’s a nice race,” said Al Stall Jr., who co-owns and trains Seven Lively Sins. “It brings horses together from all different regions. Look where they’re coming from.”

And getting to Delta, a racino located in the small southwestern Louisiana town of Vinton, is another piece of handicapping the young horses. All of them have had to make significant travel connections to get to town. Another variable is that the 1 1/16-mile Jackpot is run on a six-furlong oval, something new for most of the field’s starters who are accustomed to negotiating the more gradual turns of one-mile ovals.

All of the twists tend to keep the Jackpot from being a one-sided affair, making it instead a highly bettable race on what is the biggest card of the Delta season. The program features eight stakes worth $2.1 million, and includes a $100,000 guaranteed pick four that will run on races 4-7. The entire sequence will be comprised of stakes, including the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess for 2-year-old fillies. The final leg is the Jackpot.

Drill should start as a slight favorite based on his hard-fought win in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in September. He went on to run second in the Grade 1 Norfolk at Santa Anita in his two-turn debut Oct. 1 in an effort that made him one of the leading contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. But Drill moseyed along at the big dance, and finished 18 lengths behind the winner, Hansen.

“He came out of the gate and was flat and never ran a jump,” said Bob Baffert, who trains Drill for the partnership of Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. “He’s doing fine. He just didn’t run. I’m putting blinkers back on him.”

Drill wore blinkers in the Del Mar Futurity and Norfolk. He will break from post 6 under Martin Garcia, and might get a nice stalking trip behind the rail-drawn Longview Drive, the quick Seven Lively Sins, and Dougs Buddy, who has registered all four of his wins on a five-furlong track at Northlands Park.

Longview Drive scored his third straight win in his last race at Fresno, winning the $75,000 Charlie Palmer Futurity at 1 1/16 miles Oct. 16. He came under consideration for the Jackpot for several reasons, said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

“He’s done all of his running on the dirt and I didn’t want to take him off dirt,” he said.

Longview Drive was also a good candidate to travel to Louisiana.

“Nothing bothers him at all,” said Hollendorfer, who has given the mount to Joel Rosario.

Seven Lively Sins has a chance to steal away if things go right for him at the break. He won his maiden on the front end in a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Keeneland, and one start later missed by three-quarters of a length after setting the pace in the Iroquois. He will be making his two-turn debut Saturday, under regular rider Julien Leparoux.

“Coming out of the two-hole, I’m sure he’ll be forwardly placed,” Stall said of Seven Lively Sins. “It’s almost impossible not to be.

“If he switches off for Julien, he might take them an awful long way.”

Laurie’s Rocket also has graded experience, having finished fourth in the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga and eighth in the Champagne at Belmont Park. As a $300,000 yearling purchase whose dam, Clay’s Rocket, is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Adieu, Laurie’s Rocket has a license to be a good horse

“I think he’s a quality horse,” trainer Dallas Stewart said. “He’s been highly regarded in my mind.

“In the Champagne he struggled with the racetrack. The jock said he lost his hind end a couple of times in the post parade. He came out of the race really, really tired. He didn’t do a lot of running, but he was just exhausted. It’s a very sandy track and it seemed like it strained all of his muscles. Luckily, the next day he was fine and he trained forwardly after that.”

Three weeks later, Laurie’s Rocket won an allowance at Churchill Downs.

He will make his two-turn debut in the Jackpot, as will Jake Mo. Jake Mo last raced in the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint and after a slow start came rolling for fifth. Earlier in his career, he won the $75,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile.

“I think he’ll handle the two turns good,” said trainer Allen Milligan. “I think the further he goes the better he’s going to get for us.”

The Jackpot will be held on a special afternoon card that gets started at 1:15 p.m. Central.

DELTA DOWNS: Live video of the full card, PPs, news and analysis

Longview Drive J. Rosario 
119 Lbs
J. Hollendorfer
Seven Lively Sins J. Leparoux 
117 Lbs
A. Stall, Jr.
Tiz Moe J. Theriot 
117 Lbs
W. Calhoun
Basmati C. Nakatani 
117 Lbs
D. O'Neill
My Adonis E. Trujillo 
119 Lbs
K. Breen
Drill M. Garcia 
122 Lbs
B. Baffert
Laurie's Rocket B. Hernandez, Jr.
117 Lbs
D. Stewart
Sabercat G. Melancon 
119 Lbs
S. Asmussen
Dougs Buddy R. Stokes, III 
119 Lbs
J. Petrowski
Jake Mo D. Simington 
119 Lbs
A. Milligan