11/17/2016 1:40PM

Jackpot offers starting point for 2017 season


Cash, points, and a proven path to 3-year-old success. The Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot puts a lot on the table for 2-year-olds, and a field of 10 led by Gunnevera will be taking the Vinton, La., track up on its offer Saturday.

“Whoever runs one-two-three, I think they’re going to have an exciting 2017,” said Doug O’Neill, who will start Dangerfield.

O’Neill speaks from experience. He won the Jackpot in 2012 with Goldencents, who went on to win the Santa Anita Derby at 3. Exaggerator pulled the same double and piled on wins in this year’s Preakness and Haskell after his runner-up finish in the Kentucky Derby.

The Jackpot, at 1 1/16 miles on a six-furlong track, will dole out Kentucky Derby eligibility points to its first four finishers on a scale of 10-4-2-1. The race also will anchor a card of eight stakes worth $2.3 million and serve as the final leg of an all-stakes pick four that has a $200,000 minimum guaranteed pool. There is a reduced takeout of 12 percent on the bet, which runs on races 4-7. The entire card, including the Grade 3, $400,000 Delta Downs Princess, will be streamed live at DRF.com.

Like Exaggerator, Gunnevera won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and ran in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. His rivals Saturday include Dangerfield, who won his maiden in the Oak Tree Juvenile during the Oak Tree at Pleasanton meet in Northern California; Pat On the Back, coming off a win in the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow at Belmont; and Hot Sean, a threat to wire the field following back-to-back wins at Santa Anita.

Delta Downs Jackpot (Race 7)


Gunnevera, by Dialed In
Last 3 Beyers: 76-84-56

◗ The highlight of his career came in August, when he closed for a length win in the 6 1/2-furlong Saratoga Special.

“The pace was fast, it set up for him, and he took advantage of it,” said Antonio Sano, who trains Gunnevera for Peacock Racing Stables.

◗ Gunnevera will now attempt to nail down his first two-turn win after running fifth in the Breeders’ Futurity, won by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero Classic Empire.

“He shouldn’t have any problem,” Sano said. “I think if there’s pace up front it would set up nice.”

◗ Gunnevera shows two smart five-eighths moves for the Jackpot, one in 59.60 seconds Nov. 11 at Gulfstream Park West. Sano said the horse works fast with ease.

“He comes back like it’s nothing,” said Sano, who has given the mount to Javier Castellano and is pleased that Gunnevera drew post 6.

Dangerfield, by Into Mischief
Last 3 Beyers: 71-55-61

◗ He made his two-turn debut in the Oak Tree Juvenile and darted to a 4 1/4-length win in the one mile and 70-yard race Oct. 1. He came into the Oak Tree Juvenile off a fifth-place finish in a maiden special weight sprint at Santa Anita.

“Stretching out to two turns in his last start, he really put everything together,” O’Neill said. “He really showed what we’ve been seeing in the morning in the afternoon.”

◗ Flavien Prat will ride Dangerfield, who will break from post 5.

“He’s got some good gate speed to put him up in position,” O’Neill said. “He’s got a lot of stamina, a lot of class about him.”

◗ Dangerfield races for W C Racing and Zayat Stables, who agreed on naming the colt for the comedian because he is out of the Distorted Humor mare Amusingly, said O’Neill.

Pat On the Back, by Congrats
Last 3 Beyers: 72-71-67

◗ He’s won two stakes in his last three starts, including a nose score in the $120,000 Aspirant in September at Finger Lakes.

“He’s shown a real consistency,” trainer Ken McPeek said. “When a horse looks him in the eye, he fights them off.”

◗ Robby Albarado has the mount from the rail.

Line Judge, by Spring At Last
Last 3 Beyers: 77-77-65

◗ He earned first preference into the Jackpot with his win in the local prep, the $200,000 Jean Lafitte on Oct. 22.

“I think it’s a benefit to have a race over the Delta surface,” trainer Joe Sharp said.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 8 Hot Sean. Trainer Bob Baffert is 24-4-4-1 with a $1.32 ROI over the past five years with juveniles in dirt route graded stakes following a win, 12 losses at odds of 5-1 or lower. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 9 J Boys Echo. Trainer Dale Romans is 15-5-1-1 with a $8.46 ROI over the past five years with juveniles in dirt route graded stakes following a maiden win.  Click for more details. Mike Hogan