10/17/2016 2:06PM

Delta opens meet with reduced takeout on pick fours

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Sapling winner Tip Tap Tapizar runs Saturday in the Jean Lafitte.

Delta Downs will open Wednesday night with a reduced takeout on pick-four wagers, weekend preps for its forthcoming Jackpot and Princess stakes, and a new hotel addition set to open within the next week. The Vinton, La., track is scheduled to race 84 nights on a Wednesday-through-Saturday basis through March 11.

Delta has slashed takeout on its pick fours to 12 percent from 25 percent after testing the waters late in the season at its sister track, Evangeline Downs, in Opelousas, La. Chris Warren, director of racing for both tracks, hopes the reduced takeout will be good for the overall program at Delta.

“We want to bring attention to the meet and give players some value, and hopefully they’ll play our races more,” Warren said.

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Delta will have the national spotlight on Nov. 19, when it puts on the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot. The 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds will anchor a card of eight stakes worth $2.3 million. The program will include the Grade 3, $400,000 Delta Downs Princess.

Both the Jackpot and Princess are part of the Kentucky Derby-Kentucky Oaks qualifying program administered by Churchill Downs.

The local preps for the Delta races will be run this weekend. The $100,000 My Trusty Cat goes Friday night and is expected to produce starters for the Princess, while the $200,000 Jean Lafitte on Saturday night offers its winner first preference into the Jackpot. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is invading with Monmouth Park stakes winner Tip Tap Tapizar for the Jean Lafitte and Churchill Downs allowance winner Golden Mischief for the My Trusty Cat.

“I think both horses should travel well,” he said Monday. “Obviously, both have run at multiple tracks, have a lot of seasoning in them. They’re the right horses for those spots.”

For human visitors, the ontrack hotel has a new tower that is scheduled to open within the next 10 days, Darrel Metoyer, director of operations at Delta, said on Monday. The new tower has 167 rooms, 30 of which are suites, he said. The addition brings the total number of hotel rooms at Delta, which has a slots casino, to 370.

Metoyer said the hotel area at Delta also has a new eatery, the Rosewater, which overlooks the racetrack. There are plans to begin remodeling the food court in early 2017. The projects are all part of $45 million in improvements to the hotel area that were announced last year by Delta’s parent company, Boyd Gaming.

On the track, Delta’s stakes schedule is worth $4.6 million at this meet. Purses are projected to average more than $250,000 a program, said Warren.

Karl Broberg, the leading trainer in wins in North America, is back to try for his sixth training title at Delta. Gerard Melancon, who won last year’s riding title, also is back.

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