12/06/2003 12:00AM

Mr. Jester gets last laugh in Jackpot

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Jeff Coady
Mr. Jester wins the $1 million Delta Jackpot for 2-year-olds on Friday night at Delta Downs. His connections are now thinking Kentucky Derby.

VINTON, La. - Owner Kaaren Biggs and trainer Steve Wren resisted the urge to ship Louisiana-based colt Mr. Jester to California for the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile, deciding instead to wait for the $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs.

The decision paid $600,000 Friday night when Mr. Jester drove to a three-quarter-length win over Fire Slam in Louisiana's richest race. It was another neck back in third to a fast-closing Perfect Moon.

The Jackpot was one of four stakes Friday night at Delta, and handle on the card was a track-record $2,477,493. A special pick four linking the stakes paid $721.40 to anyone selecting three winners in the sequence.

Mr. Jester ($30.60) settled in fifth early in the Jackpot while Cooperation led the field through fractions of 23.07 seconds for the opening quarter, 45.93 for the half-mile, and 1:11.21 for six furlongs. Mr. Jester began to pick up horses on the backstretch and had the lead coming out of the final turn. He covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.34.

"At the three-eighths pole, I thought, 'They'll never catch him now,' " said Wren. "I was hoping, anyway."

The Jackpot was the richest career win for Wren, as well as for Roman Chapa, who rode a confident race aboard Mr. Jester.

"Going into the race I thought I had a really good shot," Chapa said. "In my opinion, I was a 5-2 shot to win the race."

Mr. Jester started his career in July at Louisiana Downs, where he won his maiden and the $50,000 Pioneer before traveling to Turfway Park for the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile. He finished second by a nose in that race, but was placed first after Pomeroy was disqualified for interference.

Following the Kentucky Cup, Mr. Jester returned to Louisiana and ran second in the $100,000 Jean Lafitte at Delta, the local prep for the Jackpot.

Mr. Jester will be based at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., this winter. He has two major goals: the $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn, and the Kentucky Derby.

"Ultimately, we would like to go to Kentucky," Wren said. "Like everybody else, that's been our goal all along."

Mr. Jester, a son of Silver Deputy, has won 4 of 6 career starts and $730,800. The $2 exacta of Mr. Jester and 7-1 Fire Slam returned $225, and the $2 trifecta, with 5-1 Perfect Moon third, paid $2,009.40.

Cooperation held for fourth in the Jackpot, while Judiths Wild Rush, the 8-5 favorite, did not seem to handle the track and finished ninth.

The Jackpot is the second-richest race in North America for 2-year-olds behind the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.