11/21/2013 3:23PM

Delta Jackpot, as usual, presents betting challenge

Coady Photography
Because of the long run to the first turn in the Jackpot, Rise Up should have plenty of time to gain position from post 10.

The Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot has long been a great betting race because it brings 2-year-olds from around the country together for a 1 1/16-mile stakes on a six-furlong track. But the Jackpot’s identity may have broadened last year when three of its starters – Goldencents, Itsmyluckyday, and Mylute – advanced to the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

Doug O’Neill, who trains Goldencents, and Tom Amoss, behind Mylute, are both back with starters for the 11th running of the Jackpot on Saturday. O’Neill has Breeders’ Cup Juvenile starter Rum Point, while Amoss will counter with local prep winner Rise Up. The Jackpot field of 10 – all chasing the race’s 17 available points toward Kentucky Derby preference – includes Coastline, a stakes winner at Churchill Downs.

Adding further depth to the cast is Casiguapo, the runner-up in the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga; Big Bazinga, a close second in the Grade 3 Grey at Woodbine; and Whyruawesome, the runner-up in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity.

“To me, the Jackpot has four or five logical horses that either look good enough to win or are so lightly raced they look like they have the ability to improve in this race and win,” Amoss said. “I think it’s very competitive.”

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

The Jackpot is the richest race of the Delta meet, and the Vinton, La., track is showcasing it in spectacular style. Saturday’s card, which has a special first post of 1:15 p.m. Central, boasts eight stakes worth $2.2 million in total. A $200,000-guaranteed pick four runs on races 4-7. The all-stakes sequence includes the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess for 2-year-old fillies and ends with the Jackpot. The bet has a 50-cent minimum.

Rum Point was 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after a less-than-ideal start. He has a chance to wire the field Saturday.

“His race in the Breeders’ Cup, he stumbled a little bit,” O’Neill said. “The game plan was to try to send him near the front, and after he stumbled, he lost all chance. Fortunately, he came back fine, and we’re just putting a line through that race.”

Rum Point, who will be back on Lasix after racing without the diuretic in a policy stipulated by the Breeders’ Cup, was a maiden special weight sprint winner at Del Mar who earlier this fall finished fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. Mario Gutierrez has the mount on the Reddam Racing-owned runner, who will break from post 5 in the two-turn Jackpot.

“Ideally, he breaks clean and is laying right up there, one-two-three,” O’Neill said.

Rise Up, who won the second stakes of his career in last month’s $200,000 Jean Lafitte at Delta, drew the widest post in gate 10.

“I think in our favor is post position, which might sound a little counterintuitive because you’re in the 10 hole and it’s a tight-turn racetrack,” Amoss said. “But going a mile and a sixteenth, there’s a very long run to the first turn. It gives a horse like ours, one with tactical speed, a chance to watch the race unfold before making a decision where to be.”

Paul and Andrena Van Doren purchased Rise Up privately following his win in the $100,000 Mountaineer Juvenile in August. He showed a new dimension in his 6 1/2-length Jean Lafitte win by stalking the pace. One start prior, Rise Up dueled and finished sixth in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill.

“He didn’t relax very well, and that’s something we’ve worked on since the moment that race ended, through the Jean Lafitte, up to today,” Amoss said.

Gerard Melancon has the mount.

Coastline has made a splash in just three starts. After winning his maiden at seven furlongs at Keeneland, he dueled and drew clear by three lengths in the $61,000 Street Sense, a one-turn, one-mile race at Churchill on Oct. 27. Coastline was later flattered by fourth-place finisher Almost Famous.

“Almost Famous came back and won impressively, and that’s encouraging for us,” said Mark Casse, who trains Coastline for John Oxley.

Coastline will break from post 2 under Shaun Bridgmohan.

“He’s shown that he can rate a little bit,” Casse said of Coastline. “I hope for him to be close. I don’t see him being on the lead.”

Casiguapo will be back on Lasix for the Jackpot after racing without it when fourth in the Champagne at Belmont. He invades from Calder, where he worked five furlongs from the gate in a bullet 1:00.80 on Nov. 16. Luis Saez has the mount for trainer Mario Morales.

Others set to start include the stakes-placed maidens Mighty Brown and Flat Gone; Kentucky-based Rankhasprivileges, a debut winner at 1 1/16 miles who will be first-time Lasix; and Delta maiden winner Roman Unbridled.

The forecast is for highs in the mid-50s and a 30 percent chance of showers, according to weather.com. The complete card can be streamed at DRF.com.