12/04/2004 12:00AM

Texcess best in Delta Jackpot

Coady Photography
Texcess wins the $1 million Delta Jackpot on Saturday at Delta Downs.

VINTON, La. - Texcess rewarded Victor Espinoza's decision to pass up an appearance in an international jockey championship for Saturday night's $1 million when he drove to a length and a half victory in the second richest race for 2-year-olds in North America.

Closing Argument rallied for second, finishing a nose in front of the fast closing Anthony J.

The Jackpot was the third straight victory for Texcess, who won his maiden in the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile in October, then captured an entry-level allowance over Chips Are Down at Hollywood Park.

Espinoza rode Texcess for the first time in the allowance, and decided to be at Delta for the Jackpot rather than go through with separate engagements in Japan and Hong Kong in early December.

"I'm very excited," said Espinoza. "I was supposed to be in Japan today. It was kind of hard to go all the way there and leave this horse for $1 million."

Texcess ($4.80) was with the pace from the start of the mile and a sixteenth race, pushing pacesetter Cherokee Path through an opening quarter in 22.86 seconds and the half-mile in 46.44 seconds. Texcess moved to the lead after six furlongs in 1:12.43, increased his advantage from there, and went on to cover the distance over a track rated fast in 1:48.83.

Closing Argument cut into the winner's advantage some in the stretch, when he rallied from a stalking position for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and jockey Cornelio Velasquez.

Texcess is trained by Paul Aguirre, who co-owns the horse with Omar Aldabbagh. Aldabbagh said he would like to see Texcess develop into a candidate for the Kentucky Derby.

"The thing is, he's getting better day after day," said Aldabbagh. "That's what we're hoping for, the Kentucky Derby, but it's still five or six months away."

Aldabbagh said plans call for giving Texcess the rest of the year off. The gelding is based at Hollywood Park.

Texcess earned $600,000 for the win, which was his third in four career starts. His earnings now stand at $725,427. He is a son of In Excess, and was bred in California by Ron Gomez. Aldabbagh and Aguirre purchased Texcess for $85,000 at Barrett's in California in May.

The remaining order of finish was My Parade in fourth, followed by Cherokee Path, Funk, Leaving On My Mind, Accurate, United and Major League.

* Intelligent Male ($7.40) rallied from midpack to win the $75,000 Sam's Town by a length and a half over pacesetter Demon's Prince. Tracy Hebert rode the winner for Kagele Brothers and trainer Cole Norman. Intelligent Male covered the seven furlongs, which was run around two turns, in 1:27.64.

* Handle on the 10-race program at Delta, which was the richest in track history with four stakes totaling $1.4 million, was $2,131,506 from all sources. A pick four connecting the four stakes paid $468.20. The winning numbers were 6-4-1-6, with the first leg won by So Much More ($24) and the second leg by Punch Appeal ($4).