Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 9/21/14
I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet but is it ever too early to start talking Kentucky Derby? Not to me it isn’t.  This weekend’s Horse Racing Race of the Week is the 2012 Delta Downs Jackpot Million for two year olds at Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana.  Albeit 2012 Breeders Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Hightail is entered, he is only the fourth morning line betting choice. A field of nine will go postward in the mile and a sixteenth event which, to me, is the first real Kentucky Derby prep race, even though it’s run six months ahead of time and the last four winners (Big Drama, Rule, Gourmet Dinner and Sabercat) had no real impact on the Kentucky Derby in their respective years.   Delta Downs – Saturday, November 17, 2012 Race 7 – 4:15 PM     Delta Downs Jackpot Million (Grade III) Purse $1,000,000. For Two Year Olds One And One Sixteenth Miles.   P# PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1 Bern Identity 2/C L P Lopez 122 K J Breen 7/2 2 2 Heaven’s Runway 2/C L C L Marquez 119 B Chatters 20/1 3 3 Central Banker 2/C L M Mena 117 A M Stall, Jr. 6/1 4 4 Mylute 2/C L G Melancon 117 T M Amoss 15/1 5 5 Hightail 2/C L R Maragh 119 D W Lukas 9/2 6 6 Itsmyluckyday 2/C L A Serpa 119 E Plesa, Jr. 8/1 7 7 Know More 2/C L M Gutierrez 122 D F O’Neill 4/1 8 8 Show Some Magic 2/C L R E Eramia 117 S M Asmussen 20/1 9 9 Goldencents 2/C L K Krigger 117 D F O’Neill 5/2     Analysis: 1) Goldencents- gets the call off just two career races. His debut at Del-Mar was a 7+ length romp against maidens which was impressive in and amongst itself. But it was the second race of his career that jumps off the page. His second start was in none other than the prestigious Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park (Which drew very strong field this year). In that race, he set the pace and was only overhauled by (undoubtedly) 2012 two year old colt champion Shanghai Bobby.  Both works are strong since that race (including his last 6F- 1:12.3). Gets the call in this race because I still can’t get over the fact he runs a good 2nd to the (probable) champion in his division in just his second career start. A feat like that, readers, is quite impressive and just screams talent     2) Bern Identity- broke his maiden back in June by 13+ lengths, then followed that up with a win in the Grade; 2 Sanford Stakes just three weeks later. This colt by Bernstein (Storm Cat) then finished third behind Shanghai Bobby himself in the Hopeful Stakes. I put him up this far off the three aforementioned races plus he could not have been more impressive in his last (a $200,000 prep race for this over the track). In that race, he a) showed he liked the Delta Downs surface, b) showed he could win at a distance of ground (that race was his first start at anything other that a sprint race) and c) he scored a solid speed figure in the process. Toss in a bullet :48.1 half mile work last Monday and all signs point to this horse running big on Saturday afternoon…..overall, he’s dangerous to say the least.   3) Itsmyluckyday- ….and Saturday just might be his lucky day as thisFlorida shipper comes into this race off two very impressive lop sided wins in stakes company at Calder. He’s too has already proven he can win at the route distance, he’s never been off the board in 5 career starts (5-3-1-1) and I really like that mile work he had last week (1M-1:43.3) as it should put a solid stamina foundation under him. This colt by the fast, but ill fated Lawyer Ron is another who deserves mucho respect and could easily win this race. Honorable Mentions: Know More, if you draw a line thru that failed (Breeders Cup) turf experiment like I did, you’ll see  pretty impressive past performances. They include two seconds in two Grade: 1 races and a win in a Grade:2 race (which also just happened to be his racing debut). I’ll tell you, Doug O’Neill (from I’ll Have Another fame) must of thought pretty highly of him to pick a race like that to start his career. Good looking (I love bays) colt by Lion Heart out of a Seattle Slew mare returns to his preferred surface and gets the services of jockey Mario Gutierrez, who I swear has ice water running thru his veins. Hightail, don’t mean to disrespect a Breeders Cup (Juvenile Sprint) winner but I put him this far down for a couple of reasons. One, he does seems to run better in sprint races. Two, the BC win was his maiden breaker which makes me wonder if he just happened to get lucky. Three, he’s already been handily defeated by Bern Identity. Central Banker, comes into this having never finished off the board in 4 lifetime starts (4-2-1-1). That last race, albeit against inferior competition, stands out the most at me. After going 5 wide on the turn for home, he still cruised home by 5+ lengths. Record: 22-68= 32%   Little Bets N’ Pieces: **** In the recent Keeneland November Breeding stock sales, Mandy Pope (of Whisper Hill Farm) spent a total of $14.2 million on just two mares. She spent an eye popping $10 million for 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace and one day later, spent $4.2 million on multiple stakes winner Plum Pretty. From the only crop of the ill fated Saint Liam, Havre de Grace, who was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, earned $2,586,175 on the track. “She (Havre de Grace) was absolutely gorgeous—there’s nothing more to say…she’s beautiful,” said Pope after signing the ticket. “You look at her and she’s everything a racehorse should be, and she has a wonderful attitude…she’s the epitome of what we’re all trying to breed as far as conformation and racing ability. Hopefully she’ll pass that on to her foals.”   Havre de Grace sold for a whopping $10 million recently. **** Two time grade I winner Zazu was sold (as a broodmare) for $2.1 million to Katsumi Yoshida’s Japan-based Northern Farm during the first session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. (November 6.) **** Multiple grade I winner To Honor and Serve has been retired from racing and will stand Gainesway Farm nearLexington. A fee will be announced later.   **** Eblouissante, a half sister to the great Zenyatta, will make her long awaited racing debut today (Friday) at Hollywood Park. She worked five furlongs in :59.2 this past Sunday as her final prep for the race, which is scheduled to go off at 5:20pm est. I found this little two minute video of her galloping…  **** European superhorse Frankel became the first horse to win back to back Cartier Horse of the Year Awards this past Tuesday when it was announced at a ceremony in London honoring all of Europe’s top horses. The great Frankel takes home his second consectutive Horse of the Year award…and deservedly so. **** Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 Kentucky and strong runner up in this years Breeders Cup Turf Mile), will prep for the 2013 Dubai World Cup (End of March) with a start in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 9, owner Team Valor International said this past Wednesday. “I like the timing, the spacing and the surface,” trainer Graham Motion said  ”I like racing him on grass again”, Motion added, “because it is kinder on horses, and he won over theGulfstreamParkcourse this year and showed a liking for it, he also raced on the grass a year earlier at 3. So he should feel at home”.

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