11/15/2012 3:02PM

Delta Jackpot: O'Neill stablemates bring class, contrasting styles to wide-open race

Shigeki Kikkawa
Goldencents, shown winning a maiden race at Del Mar, will make his first start around two turns in the $1 million Delta Jackpot.

Goldencents and Know More played runner-up to Shanghai Bobby and Power Broker in Grade 1 stakes on separate coasts this fall. Saturday, Goldencents and Know More, both from the barn of Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill, will meet for the first time in the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot.

“I look for big efforts from both of them,” said O’Neill. “Both colts are extremely talented, and the great thing is they won’t conflict with each other because they’ve got contrasting styles.”

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

The Jackpot is for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles and drew a field of nine. It leads a special daytime card of eight stakes worth $2.2 million. Delta, a six-furlong track in Vinton, La., introduced the race in 2002 as a means for horses to earn enough graded cash to get into the Kentucky Derby if that race is oversubscribed. But beginning in 2013, preference into the Kentucky Derby will be determined by points. The Jackpot is worth 10 to the winner, while the runner-up earns 4, third gets 2, and fourth, 1.

A number of horses in the Jackpot could end up on the Kentucky Derby trail. Hightail is the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner, while Bern Identity captured the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga and then won his two-turn debut in the $200,000 Jean Lafitte at Delta. Itsmyluckyday, meanwhile, had been under consideration for the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct off back-to-back stakes wins at Calder but opted for the Jackpot.

The O’Neill runners are the only field members who have earned points on the Kentucky Derby leader board. Goldencents earned 4 when he finished second by five lengths to eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby in the Champagne at Belmont Park. Know More has 4 points for finishing second by 6 1/2 lengths to Power Broker in the FrontRunner at Santa Anita.

The Jackpot will be the third career start for Goldencents. He won his debut wire to wire in a maiden special weight at Del Mar on Sept. 2, with a Beyer Figure of 93. A month later, he set the pace in the Champagne and fought on.

“He’s a classy horse,” O’Neill said. “To ship, second start of his life, to New York, and do what he did was pretty sensational.

“He was not nominated to the Breeders’ Cup, so this is our version of the Breeders’ Cup for him. He would have run in the Breeders’ Cup [Juvenile] if he was nominated.”

Goldencents will be making his two-turn debut in the Jackpot, and O’Neill said the horse has become more relaxed in his recent training. While his natural speed will serve him well on a smaller track like Delta, so will his regular rider, Kevin Krigger, noted O’Neill.

“Kevin rides the bullring well at Pomona,” he said of Fairplex. “He knows the colt and he knows the bullring.

“I think this is a great race to begin the two-turn process of [this horse’s] career.”

Know More also showed talent in his first start, when he rallied to win the Grade 2 Best Pal at Del Mar. He last raced in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita, finishing 13th.

“He never got a chance to run,” O’Neill said. “His post was in the parking lot. He was way out to begin with, and then he kind of got pushed out even more. He was bounced around on the final turn. It just wasn’t his day as far as the way trips went.”

Know More is owned by Reddam Racing and is to be ridden by Mario Gutierrez, who along with O’Neill won this year’s Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another.

Hightail will be stretching back out after closing strongly to win his maiden in the BC Juvenile Sprint at six furlongs.

“I think he’s better at two turns. I really do,” said trainer D. Wayne Lukas. “We thought with all the speed in the race last time that it would come back a little bit and he put in a nice run the last eighth.”

Rajiv Maragh has the mount.

Itsmyluckyday is proven at two turns, having won the Foolish Pleasure at Calder in his last start Sept. 15.

“It was his first race going around two turns,” said trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. “We had been dying to run him around two turns and he beat a horse that was undefeated down at Calder, Sr. Quisqueyano, a highly rated horse.”

Itsmyluckyday could stalk the pace Saturday under Angel Serpa.

“I think he can position himself where he needs to be on that track,” said Plesa. “There’s not much of a stretch run, so you’d better be in good position before you get to the stretch.”

It also helps to be able to handle a laboring track, which Central Banker did on the first day of the Churchill meet when he won a first-level allowance by five lengths Oct. 28.

“The track at Churchill has been deep this meet, especially opening day,” said trainer Al Stall Jr. “I thought it was almost a couple seconds slow. I think that might get him used to Delta. Delta is kind of deepish, a sandy track.”

Bern Identity is the lone runner in the field with a win at Delta, in the Jean Lafitte.

The Jackpot will be the final leg of a $100,000 guaranteed pick four that runs on races 4-7. There will be live streaming video of the card at DRF.com.

Forego137 More than 1 year ago
The two to beat ran one two. Bern Identity appeared to be the better horse if he had not been bottled up on the rail in the final turn for home and was just flying at Goldencents who just held on, all in all great race for team West Coast and congrats to Kevin Krigger on the biggest win of his career.
Infinity More than 1 year ago
I like the shipper from Calder and his daddy was a good one. Sandy base won't hurt his chances and the price will be square. That work of 1st out of 113 is an eye opener. Obvious class test.
Eric Rickard More than 1 year ago
The move to turf for Know More surprised me. I am waiting to see how he does.
lizzy More than 1 year ago
Doug O'Neil makes me nervous. It's really too bad but I probably will never get over the I'll Have Another Belmont fiasco. Something has always seemed fishy about it all and so sudden and staged. I agree with Ms. Chenery that the cheaters need to be weeded out of the sport - not sure about Doug but that must have stung. To me it seemed that maybe they had been running IHA with injuries masked and couldn't get away with it under such strident rules at Belmont or they just didn't want to take a chance of him possibly getting injured since they probably had that 10 million dollar deal under the table. But with a big beautiful fast closer like IHA I find it difficult to believe that he all of a sudden he was injured the day before the Belmont......just my opinion...possibly he had been injured in the the Derby and they ran him anyway in the Preakness, which is my guess. What's new about that? Look at Horatio Luro and Native Dancer. Native Dancer was lucky he survived that trainer's lack of empathy. Not to be negative here - I love Mario and I adored IHA, what heart and fighting spirit.......I hope for all Doug O'Neil has changed his ways. Show us Doug and rebuild our faith in you .I find it extremely hard to believe that Rick Dutrow can still enter a horse in a race anywhere in this world.
Jade Sword More than 1 year ago
IHA had arrived early at Belmont for his usual preparation, accompanied by Lava Man, but that preparation was not granted to the TC winner candidate. Instead, IHA was hurt in the detention barn, created especially for him by East coasters who couldn't stand the idea of a West coast horse winning the TC. If you don't believe me ask Trevor Denman about the East coast attitude towards Zenyatta. It's beyond belief, but the reality of horse racing in this country. O'Neill was suspended for 40 or 45 days for being suspected of wrong doing. There was no evidence. Not necessary under the regulation. The horse in question finished 7th or 8th in some meaningless race. All the details that matter get lost when the media jump on it. They know that many people only read headlines, and very few take the trouble to read between the lines. It may help to question the motive behind and timing of a negative story.
Edward More than 1 year ago
Maybe you should learn the principle of Occam's Razor. As to your conjecture that they held him out of the Belmont bc they had a 10 million dollar Breeders agreement is, well...do you actually follow horse racing? That deal would have been there regardless of his finish in the Belmont. If he would have won the Belmont, his breeding deal may have been closer to 100 million dollars so missing the Belmont could only have cost them money and a lot of it at that. Considering how poorly run the Belmont race was with a final time that should have received a Beyer figure no higher than about a 72 and would have lost almost every Belmont ever run, I would say they were 90% to win that race if they ran with a healthy IHA so I say you have no idea what you are talking about.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Your concern is very misguided. They would have made much, much more money if they had let I'll Have Another run in the Belmont and win it. The way the race played out and was ultimately run, he WOULD have won the Belmont Stakes. But at what price, if he was injured beforehand, even slighly? IHA doesn't know any other way but to go full out to beat everyone in a race with him, especially if there is a horse on the lead in front of him. He has a will of iron when it comes to winning a race. Nobody, and I do mean nobody, wanted to see him hurt himself on the track if he had an injury. It is better to be safe rather than sorry, and if that leaves suspicions in your mind, then that is just too bad. The health of I'll Have Another is much more important than your disappointment, my disappointment, or anyone else's disappointment in not seeing a Triple Crown being won this year. I suggest you take the time to see how happy and healthy I'll Have Another is at Big Red Farm. Seeing him doing so marvelously there will cure that cynical attitude you have about him. He looks absolutely incredible, strong, regal and handsome beyond belief. They are taking excellent care of him there. It's a first class organization.
Bamb Ezzy More than 1 year ago
Know More is a great horse, but the stables main Derby hopes are planted squarely on Goldencents' shoulders, the horse is a monster in the morning and with some luck staying sound he will surely make some noise in the spring time.
Pale Rider More than 1 year ago
I thought O'Neill was on suspension for drugs?
Tom F More than 1 year ago
he WAS
Alyssa F. More than 1 year ago
He isn't suspended anymore.
Forego137 More than 1 year ago
Do you only follow negative press ? or have you been in a cave ? or you must be new to the game
Marc Estrich More than 1 year ago
Is it true that the new qualifying points system for the KY Derby will reduce the impact the results here will have as opposed to when the winner on graded earnings was virtually assured a starting position if healthy to run on the first Sturday in May.
DRFInsidePost More than 1 year ago
Yes, I think it's fair to say the 10 points the winner gets here will not put him as high up on the Derby list as the winner's share of $1 million in graded earnings used to.
Jade Sword More than 1 year ago
There are seven races near the end of March and at the start of April that will earn the winner 100 Derby qualifying points. Before that, starting in the second half of February, there are eight 50 point races. Two years olds that peak early are no longer rewarded with a Derby spot. Much better for the horses and the quality of the Derby field, if you ask me.
Edward More than 1 year ago
I agree but I do believe that the Breeders Cup Juvenile(not the Sprint though) winner should get an automatic spot in the Derby field.
Jeff More than 1 year ago
It's first time Lasix again for Lucas and O'Neil... look out.
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
Okay, what's wrong with this comment? Obviously, you can't have "first time [Lasix] again." And that would only apply to Know More, not Goldencents.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
The Jackpot looks like it is going to be a competitive race. The O'Neill barn has two promising contenders in Know More and Goldencents. It will be interesting to see how Goldencents handles two turns for the first time. Know More will get the benefit of being piloted by Mario Gutierrez. Mario certainly had the golden touch on I'll Have Another and two other stakes horses that race for Team O'Neill. It will be interesting to see what Super Mario can do on Know More. Good luck to both Super Mario and Kevin Krigger on their mounts, as well as everyone entered in the race. Safe, competitive, exciting racing wished for all.
Ange More than 1 year ago
And of course Super Mario has tonnes of bullring experience from riding here at Hastings. Go Team O'Neill!