12/01/2004 1:00AM

Ten draw in, six lose out

Benoit & Associates
Texcess, winning the Cal Cup Juvenile, drew post 6 in the Delta Jackpot.

VINTON, La. - Texcess and Funk, who should rule as the top two betting choices in Saturday's $1 million at Delta Downs, drew side by side in the middle of the starting gate when entries for the race were pulled on Wednesday.

A few hours before the draw, it was announced that the Jackpot, which is the second richest race for 2-year-olds in North America, will have Grade 3 status for 2005. For this year's third running, 16 horses were entered but six were excluded. The maximum field size at Delta, which has a six-furlong oval, is 10.

Along with the Jackpot, the fields for the $250,000 Princess, the $75,000 Sam's Town, and the $75,000 Treasure Chest were set on Wednesday. The races, scheduled as the fifth through eighth, will make up a $50,000 guaranteed pick four, with the final leg, the Jackpot, having an approximate post time of 6:24 p.m. Central.

Funk drew post 5 for the 1 1/16-mile race, while Texcess, who should go favored under Victor Espinoza, will break from post 6.

"It's a great post," said Paul Aguirre, who trains Texcess. "But I wasn't too concerned about post. They've got the long chute."

The field will have a three-furlong run to the first turn of the Jackpot after starting from the 1 1/16-mile chute at the top of the stretch. The race will be run around two turns, with a distance of 660 feet from the last turn to the finish line.

Texcess, a front-runner, has won his last two starts, including the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile, and he arrived at Delta around 1 p.m. Wednesday. He flew out of his Hollywood Park base early that morning, arrived in Houston, then vanned about two hours to Vinton, a small town near the border of Texas.

Funk was scheduled to arrive on Thursday. Before the draw, his trainer, Todd Pletcher, indicated he would be satisfied with a middle gate.

"I think he probably wants to be toward the inside there, [but] not on the rail," said Pletcher.

Eddie Martin Jr. has the mount on Funk, who in his last start was second to Defer in the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity. Funk, along with Accurate and United, will invade from New York. Accurate won the $125,000 Great White Way for New York-breds last out for trainer Steve Klesaris, and will break from post 10. United drew post 3.

The complete field from the rail with riders is: Major League, Corey Lanerie; Leaving on My Mind, Roman Chapa; United, Gerard Melancon; My Parade, Filemon Rodriguez; Funk, Martin; Texcess, Espinoza; Cherokee Path, Guy Smith; Anthony J., Jose Velez Jr.; Closing Argument, Cornelio Velasquez; and Accurate, Noberto Arroyo Jr.

Those excluded from the race, which gave preference to horses with the highest total earnings, were Chips Are Down, Spanish Chestnut, Silver Haze, Rubialedo, Munificence, and Dixie Meister.

For the Princess, a one-mile race for 2-year-old fillies, a field of six was drawn. From the rail the starters are Joyous Song, Velasquez; Snipper Lou, Smith; My Three Sisters, Marlon St. Julien; Punch Appeal, Donnie Meche; Cash Counter, Tracy Hebert; and Summer Raven, Espinoza. The Princess will go as the sixth race.

The first stakes on the card is the Treasure Chest for fillies and mares, and the top contenders include a three-horse entry from trainer Howard Scarberry: Due to Win, Took Out, and Baileys Affair. It will go as the fifth race. The Sam's Town is the seventh race, and top contenders include the Cole Norman-trained entry of Pie N Burger and Intelligent Male.

Chris Warren, director of racing for Delta, said this year's Jackpot is scheduled to be simulcast to California. Delta has a special first post of 3 p.m. for the 10-race Jackpot card, and this year the program is being run on a Saturday, after being held on a Friday night in 2003.

Forecasters are calling for a high of 65 on Saturday, with showers possible. The Jackpot is to be broadcast on TVG.