11/19/2015 3:12PM

La Appassionata can give Melancon first Delta Princess win

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The unbeaten filly La Appassionata will be heavily favored to win her third straight in the Delta Downs Princess.

La Appassionata will be an odds-on favorite to give jockey Gerard Melancon a win in the one major race at Delta Downs that has eluded him, the Grade 3, $400,000 Princess. She is undefeated and untested in two starts and is coming off a seven-length win in the local prep, the $100,000 My Trusty Cat.

Melancon has long been a force at Delta, winning three titles at the track and setting single-season records for wins and mount earnings. He also is the only rider to win two editions of the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot, scoring with Sabercat in 2011 and Rise Up in 2013. Melancon, who won four races on Jackpot Day in 2013 and had a stakes double on the same program in 2014, is looking forward to the card Saturday.

“It’s our biggest day of the year,” he said. “Horses are coming in from all over the place. They put on a really big program.”

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La Appassionata, who invades from Fair Grounds, faces six others in the Princess, a one-mile race for 2-year-old fillies. The Princess will reward its first four finishers with Kentucky Oaks eligibility points, and it serves as the third leg of an all-stakes pick four that has a guaranteed pool of $200,000. The bet runs on races 4-7.

Delta Princess, Race 6

KEY CONTENDERS

La Appassionata (Last 2 Beyers: 80-76)

◗ She won a maiden special weight sprint in her Sept. 13 debut at Churchill Downs and then backed up the performance in the My Trusty Cat. La Appassionata was a seven-length winner over Above Fashion and Jet Black Magic, who both return in the Princess.

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“She overcame a rough trip,” Melancon said. “We had the outside post, and we got bounced around pretty good. After that, she settled good and finished really strong.”

◗ The My Trusty Cat marked the first two-turn start for La Appassionata. She picks up a bit of ground on the move from seven furlongs to a mile, and it should be a plus for the daughter of Bernardini, said Melancon.

◗ Her trainer, Steve Asmussen, won the Princess in 2004 with Punch Appeal and in 2008 with Four Gifts.

◗ Stonestreet Stables bred and owns La Appassionata. The filly’s dam, Moonlight Sonata, was a Grade 3 winner at 2. She has produced a pair of Grade 2 winners in Beethoven, who accounted for the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, and Wilburn, who captured the Indiana Derby.

◗ La Appassionata will break from post 6.

“She has a great mind,” Melancon said. “You can pretty much do whatever you want with her. Last time, she was just push-button.”