12/03/2003 12:00AM

Ten will try to hit Jackpot

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Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Judiths Wild Rush, with exercise rider Michele Rainford, may go favored in the Jackpot.

VINTON, La. - Just as every horse in Friday night's $1 million Delta Jackpot has something to prove, so does the race itself. Doubled in value for its second running, the Jackpot boasts the kind of purse that can help it carve out a national niche.

It is the second-biggest offering for 2-year-olds in North America behind the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and is the richest race in Louisiana.

As a result, interest in the Jackpot, to be run at 1 1/16 miles, has been widespread this year, and a full field of 10 will start. The race headlines a blockbuster card of four stakes worth $1.3 million, a program that has made the slots-rich Delta Downs, a small track in a smaller town, this Friday night's mecca for some of racing's biggest names.

Among the trainers starting horses are Bob Baffert, Todd Pletcher, and Doug O'Neill, while the top-class riders with mounts include Mike Smith, Alex Solis, Victor Espinoza, John Velazquez, and Shane Sellers.

Funded solely by the revenues from slot machines, the Jackpot drew a wide-open field. Judiths Wild Rush and Joe Six Pack, both undefeated stakes winners around two turns, are the most proven commodities, but neither is a lock.

Baffert will send out the coupled entry of Cooperation and Consecrate. Although neither is proven around two turns, both have been tested for class in graded stakes in Southern California.

"We've got a speed horse and one that can come from off the pace, so we've got both ends covered," said Baffert.

Cooperation stalked a hot pace in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue in his last start and finished second to Lion Heart, a top contender for the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity. Alex Solis has the mount on Cooperation, who is a half-brother to Hesabull, a Grade 2 winner of $826,255.

David Flores will ride Consecrate, who finished a troubled fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He worked a bullet five furlongs in 58.20 seconds on Sunday and is from the first crop of Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm, a Baffert trainee and earner of $6.9 million.

Another top contender is Perfect Moon, who three starts ago won the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. Perfect Moon was third in the Norfolk at Santa Anita in his last start and will add blinkers for this race.

Judiths Wild Rush could go favored in the Jackpot after earning a 103 Beyer Speed Figure for his crushing 10-length win in the $135,000 Display last out at Woodbine. The stakes was his first start around two turns.

"That race didn't really seem to take a lot out of him, so we're hoping he duplicates it," said Scott Fairlie, who trains Judiths Wild Rush. "He's training good and he's feeling super, and he seems to have moved forward off the [Display]."

Dino Luciani has the mount.

Mr. Jester is a late-running threat in the Jackpot. He was beaten a nose in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup in September, but, placed first after Pomeroy was disqualified for interference.

Mr. Jester has thrived since he arrived at Delta on Nov. 24.

"I don't think he can come into a race any better," said Steve Wren, who trains Mr. Jester for Kaaren Biggs. "He may get beat, but they're going to have to outrun him."

Roman Chapa will ride Mr. Jester.

Adding depth to the Jackpot field are two promising colts, Tales of Glory and Fire Slam, who will be making their two-turn debuts; Rush Into Heaven, winner of the restricted Pinjara at Santa Anita and a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Mahogany Hall; and America America.

The lone filly in the field, America America will be making her 17th start of the year She defeated males in her most recent race when she won the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile. Robby Albarado has the mount for owner-trainer Franck Mourier.

With a three-furlong run from the chute to the first turn of the Jackpot, the field has a lot of time to sort itself out. Among those who should be in the first flight are Tales of Glory, Cooperation, Judiths Wild Rush, Joe Six Pack, and Perfect Moon.

On the backstretch, horses like Mr. Jester figure to be picking up steam for the short stretch run at Delta.

The forecast for Friday is a high of 60 degrees and a low of 29. The Jackpot, which will serve as the final leg of an all-stakes pick four at Delta, will be shown live on the Television Games Network.