10/11/2009 11:00PM

Lots of stakes loot for juveniles at Delta


Two-year-olds will have the chance to get rich quick at the Delta Downs meet that opens Wednesday night. The theme of the stakes schedule in November and December is six-figure races for juveniles.

There are the track's traditional Grade 3 offerings, the $750,000 Jackpot and the $500,000 Delta Princess; the preps for those races, the $175,000 Jean Lafitte and $125,000 My Trusty Cat; and a new pair of $250,000 stakes for Louisiana-breds, the Legacy and Jewel.

"They do have a lot of opportunities for 2-year-olds this year," said the meet's perennial leading trainer, Keith Bourgeois.

Delta, the slots-rich track located in the southwestern Louisiana town of Vinton, will race for 90 nights through March 20, 2010. The highlight of the season comes Dec. 4, when the Delta Jackpot, at 1 1/16 miles, and the Delta Princess, at a mile, anchor a card of six stakes worth more than $1.6 million. And this year, there will be a new incentive attached to the Jackpot and Princess. If a Grade 1 or Grade 2 winner is entered in either race, that horse will be running for an additional $250,000 in purse money. The idea is to lure the best fields possible, said officials with Delta.

The preps for the Jackpot and Princess will be held Nov. 6, on the same card as the Legacy and Jewel. Both new stakes are at seven furlongs, which is a two-turn race at Delta. In all, there will be 34 stakes worth a cumulative $4.4 million over the course of the meet. Other major race days include the $1 million Louisiana Premier Night program of 10 statebred stakes on Feb. 6.

Purses at Delta are projected at $235,000 a day. The stable area is bustling with trainers new to the meet, like Allen Milligan, and familiar faces, such as Bourgeois, who is seeking his seventh straight title at Delta.

"Hopefully, we can get off to a good start right away," he said.

Bourgeois will be active Wednesday night in the $60,000 Zydeco, one of two five-furlong stakes on the card. He will send out horse-for-course Call Me Collect against Chicago invader Piratesonthelake. Also in the race is Southern Style, who won the $50,000 Temperence Hill at Louisiana Downs in his last start Sept. 19.

Jockey Shane Sellers has the mount on Southern Style, whom he had been named to ride in the Temperence Hill but had to take off because of an injury he sustained when a horse he was working stumbled and jerked him during morning training hours at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 18.

"I felt something pop in my back and ended up having a herniated disc," Sellers said. "It wasn't really bad. It wasn't ruptured or anything like that. It was just a slight herniation. Everything's well now."

Sellers, whose first mounts back are Wednesday, said he plans to ride through Friday night at Delta. He will then head to New Orleans to begin working horses for the Fair Grounds meet, which opens in November. Sellers launched his comeback from a four-year layoff in July and has won with 25 percent of his mounts while riding at Evangeline and Louisiana Downs.

Jockey Gerard Melancon, the winner of the last two riding titles at Delta, will lead a local colony that includes recent Louisiana Downs title winner Don Simington.