11/17/2011 4:54PM

King: Plenty to like about My Adonis in Delta Downs Jackpot

Coady Photography
My Adonis, with Elvis Trujillo up, wins the Jean Lafitte, the Delta Downs Jackpot prep, by 5 1/4 lengths.

A little more than 15 years ago, before the opening of Sam Houston Race Park, racing fans from Houston would make the two-hour trek to Delta Downs in Vinton, La., because it offered the closest horse racing around.

Now, it's not just diehard Texan horseplayers going to Vinton; people and horses are coming from all over.

With alternate gaming fueling its purses, horsemen everywhere seem to want a piece of the Delta action as evidenced by overflow fields there daily and the field assembled for Saturday's Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot.

Such prominent West Coast trainers as Bob Baffert, Jerry Hollendorfer, and Doug O'Neil are represented in the Jackpot by Drill, Longview Drive, and Basmati, respectively. And the race also drew runners from Louisiana-based trainers such as Al Stall and Steve Asmussen, who winter at Fair Grounds each year.

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

Stall runs Seven Lively Sins, and Asmussen has Sabercat - both contenders.

However, my choice is a New Jersey transplant: My Adonis, who besides having the talent to win the race also has been skillfully managed leading up to the Jackpot.

A true router who has made four of his five starts around two turns, he won't have any problem with the 1 1/16-mile Jackpot distance, which can't be said with certainty with regard to some of his opponents.

This is a horse -- a colt by Pleasantly Perfect -- who has developed as the year has progressed, so much so that he ran one of the better two-turn route Beyer Speed Figures of the year when he won a maiden race at Monmouth Park on Sept. 24 in the mud with an 86 Beyer.

After that victory, trainer Kelly Breen drew up a plan to get this horse ready for the Jackpot, and the move appears to have gone without a hitch. He shipped him to Delta Downs in October, and his colt romped in the local prep, the $200,000 Jean Lafitte.

My Adonis has remained at Delta Downs in the three weeks that have followed, working two easy half-miles over the Delta strip in preparation for the Jackpot.

Contrast that preparation to that of Drill, who ran dismally in the finishing 10th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5 at Churchill and has since flown from Kentucky to California and from California to Louisiana.

As much as I respect Drill's trainer, Hall of Famer Baffert, it is difficult to foresee Drill turning in the peak effort required to win the Jackpot with such preparation.

Plus, the latter will be overbet on reputation alone, with not only Baffert in his corner but with the horse having competed in three straight Grade 1 races.

Also, bettors love to overbet equipment changes, and jumping right out in the past performances is the change that Drill adds blinkers -- shades that were taken off for the Juvenile.

The off-with-blinkers, back-with-blinkers move should be viewed negatively -- a sign Baffert feels he is not getting an optimum performance from the horse.

My Adonis is performing at an optimum level, though. And if he sticks to his 4-1 morning line, he is a great bet to take the Jackpot from just off what should be a lively pace.

Princess sets up for Devious Intent

The sister race to the Jackpot, the Grade 3, $500,000 Princess, also shapes up as a race overloaded with speed. At least four of the 10 entries are runners that want the lead, and at least two of three others want to race in close proximity to the pace.

This sets the race up for the stalking Devious Intent, an 8-1 shot who could not catch a loose-on-the-lead Citizen Advocate in a paceless seven-furlong My Trusty Cat in which the latter got away with a half-mile in 48.69 seconds.

Devious Intent has twice run Beyers in the upper 70s, numbers that are not the best in the field, but rank just behind the leaders. And those that have run faster might be poised to regress due to a combination of reasons.

Now I Know, coming off a new figure top and racing a route for the first time, is a bounce candidate; Candrea races on short rest after a Breeders' Cup dusting; and Citizen Advocate doesn't figure to enjoy the easy lead she experienced last time.

Meanwhile, Devious Intent has the perfect style for this race, being a filly that wants to race a couple lengths off the pace, tracking the leaders. That should leave her in position to make the needed early move on the final turn at Delta, a key with the track's short stretch.

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