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Bern Identity won the Sanford Stakes (G2) in July at Saratoga Race Course. (Photo courtesy of

The 10th running of the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (G3) brings together a field of nine 2-year-olds, and although it offers the runners a big purse it no longer has the impact in terms of next year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) as it has in years past. That is because the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” is now based on points in designated races rather than on earnings, with the Delta Downs Jackpot afforded the same number of points as 18 other races that occur in the fall and winter.

Still, $1 million is nothing to sneeze at, and as such the race has attracted a nice group, led by Hightail, who earned his first career win when victorious in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint just two weeks ago. Hightail’s biggest challenge should come from Bern Identity and Mylute, the one-two finishers of last month’s local prep for the Jackpot, the Jean Lafitte Stakes. Another who has every right to succeed is Goldencents, last seen finishing second to subsequent Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Shanghai Bobby in the Champagne Stakes (G1). Know More, who hails from the same Doug O’Neill barn as Goldencents, finished second in the FrontRunner Stakes (G1) in October before a poor 13th-place showing in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Itsmyluckyday enters the Jackpot on the heels of two stakes victories in a row, most recently in the Foolish Pleasure Stakes, so he is another with his eye on the prize. Central Banker finished second in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes in September and returned from a six-week rest to win powerfully last month, so he could be another contender provided he takes to the two-turn trip he is trying for the first time. Heaven’s Runway won the Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Stakes in September but subsequently finished seventh in the Iroquois Stakes (G3). Show Some Magic, who has run poorly in both stakes tries to date, rounds out the field.

Bern Identity won the Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs last month, not only earning a career-best 99 Equibase Speed Figure but also the best last-race figure in the field. Two races prior to that, Bern Identity won the Sanford Stakes (G2) in fine fashion to prove he belongs with the top 2-year-olds. Having successfully navigated this oval and coming off a powerful three-length victory, Bern Identity gets the ground-saving rail for the Delta Downs Jackpot and should be in a great stalking position in the early stages behind probable dueling leaders Heaven’s Runway and Goldencents, which could help set up his second straight stakes victory.

Hightail showed a lot of maturity and guts when rallying along the rail and in tight quarters to sneak by leader Merit Man in the stretch to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint by a nose, getting his first career victory in the process. Earning a career-best 98 Equibase Speed Figure, just one point shy of the 99 figure Bern Identity earned in his recent stakes win, the only real difference in the probability of success in the Jackpot between Hightail and Bern Identity is that Hightail’s win came in a one-turn race at the distance of six furlongs (three-quarters of a mile) whereas Bern Identity won at the distance of a mile around two turns. Still, it won’t take much improvement at all for Hightail to run well enough to win this year’s Jackpot.



Mylute was clearly second in the Jean Lafitte, three lengths behind Bern Identity but four lengths clear of the third-place finisher. Having improved to a career-best 94 speed figure with that effort in his first ever two-turn race on a conventional dirt surface, Mylute is another that could benefit from a hot early pace battle between Heaven’s Runway and Goldencents and could improve enough to post the mild upset win in this race.

The rest of the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes field (with their best representative Equibase Speed Figure): Central Banker (93), Goldencents (99) Heaven’s Runway (96), Itsmyluckyday (88), Know More (93) and Show Some Magic (92).

My Selections:

Bern Identity



$1 million Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (G3)

Saturday, November 17, Race 7, Delta Downs

1 1/16 miles, 2-year olds 






Bern Identity

Kelly Breen

P. Lopez


Heaven’s Runway

Bernard Chatters

C.L. Marquez


Central Banker

Al Stall Jr.

M. Mena



Tom Amoss

G. Melancon



D. Wayne Lukas

R. Maragh



Ed diePlesa Jr.

A. Serpa


Know More

Doug O’Neill

M. Gutierrez


Show Some Magic

Steve Asmussen

R.A. Eramia



Doug O’Neill

K. Krigger

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

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