12/05/2007 12:00AM

Z Humor looking sharp for Jackpot

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Z Humor, with trainer Bill Mott alongside, is the favorite in Friday's Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot.
The idea of "Win and You're In" was created with the Breeders' Cup in mind, but Friday night's Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot has win and you're in implications for the sport's other biggest day. The first-place check of $600,000 in graded earnings is enough to ensure the winner a spot in the starting gate for next year's Kentucky Derby.

"It really secures getting a chance at the big stuff, where the graded money could come into play," said trainer Michael Trombetta, who will send out the undefeated Cave's Valley in the Jackpot.

The 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds is Louisiana's richest race and one of four stakes worth $1.4 million that will be run Friday at the slots-rich Delta Downs in Vinton, La. The Jackpot, which is run on a six-furlong oval around two turns, shares a card with the $300,000 Delta Princess for 2-year-old fillies. The Jackpot is also the final leg of an all-stakes pick four on races 5-8 that has a guaranteed pool of $100,000.

Z Humor could go favored over nine others. He finally shakes divisional leader War Pass, to whom he finished third in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont in October. Z Humor hooked War Pass again in his last start, finishing fifth to him in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27.

"It wasn't a bad race," said Bill Mott, who trains Z Humor. "He wasn't beaten bad for third money. He kind of got backed up around the turn a little bit. One of the pace horses slowed down in front of him and he had to fish for his room a little bit and still kind of came on. He tried hard to save what he did save."

Mott said Z Humor has hummed along since, and the horse brings a pair of bullet works into the Jackpot. He will break from post 4 under Garrett Gomez and might sit off a pace that could be dictated by the rail-drawn Betatron or St. Joe and pushed along by Cave's Valley.

"He's a stalker-type," Mott said of Z Humor.

Racecar Rhapsody will attempt to give trainer Ken McPeek and jockey Robby Albarado their second Jackpot win in a row following Birdbirdistheword's off-the-pace triumph in 2006. Racecar Rhapsody has displayed a similar style, closing for third in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 24.

"He came out of the race at Churchill bouncing," McPeek said. "That was his first two-turn race and he got a little bit of learning experience. He's a talented horse and he's doing good, and hopefully it sets up for him. Of course, that's up to Robby. We've got a top rider and we've got a good horse, and maybe we can double up and win it again."

Cave's Valley makes his graded stakes debut following a pair of two-turn stakes wins at Delaware Park.

"We're very excited about the prospects of this colt," Trombetta said. "He's got a whole lot of very good attributes. He's very smart. He's very well-balanced. He's very athletic."

Golden Yank also brings a pair of two-turn stakes wins into the Jackpot. His most recent was significant, because in capturing the $150,000 Jean Lafitte at Delta he conquered the Jackpot's unique variables, which include racing under the lights and negotiating a six-furlong track. Golden Yank won the Jean Lafitte by 5 3/4 lengths, gobbling up the leaders after stalking the pace early in the one-mile race on Nov. 9.

"The turn of foot that he showed was something else," said Gary Thomas, who trains Golden Yank. "It just took him two or three strides to get them. So, if we can keep him doing that, he'll be tough."

Betatron makes his two-turn debut following an allowance win at Churchill in which he covered six furlongs in a sharp 1:10.20. He was making his first start for trainer Tom Amoss, who said the horse showed him a lot in that Oct. 28 race.

"He did not have a good trip," Amoss said. "He didn't break very well. He rushed up into a spot that wasn't available to him and he had to check, and doing all that, he ran very, very well down the lane."

St. Joe, who won his maiden over Racecar Rhapsody, was third last out in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill. The Iroquois has since become a productive race, with winner Court Vision returning in his next start to take the Grade 2 Remsen, and fifth-place finisher Chitoz winning a first-level allowance. Rafael Bejarano has the mount for trainer Darrin Miller.

Turf War gets the services of Kentucky Derby-winning rider Calvin Borel. Earlier this year, the full brother to Travers runner-up Grasshopper won the $125,000 Swynford at Woodbine.