Saturday’s Grade 3, $1-million Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes drew 10 top 2-year-olds, and the winner of this 1 1/16-mile dirt race will take home $600,000 as well as 10 points toward securing a spot in the 2015 Kentucky Derby.
These 2-year-olds all have enjoyed some level of success thus far in their respective careers, making this an exciting race to watch but also a fun challenge to handicap. Let’s take a closer look at this impressive field to see if we can find ourselves a winning ticket on a budget:
#8 – Wake Up Nick: He has had a standout juvenile season. Since his memorable maiden race in May, when he won by a margin of 9 ¼ lengths, he has only been defeated once from five subsequent starts. Wake Up Nick finished second in the Golden State Juvenile Stakes on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita, where he was beaten by 1 ¼ lengths by Acceptance. This will be his longest race to date, but under the training of Leandro Mora’s team (which also trained 2012 Delta Downs Jackpot winner and two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile victor Goldencents) he’s maturing nicely and should handle this race well. I wouldn’t leave him out of your bets, especially at 10-1 on the morning line.
On a personal note: I met Wake Up Nick the day after he won the Santa Anita Juvenile Stakes in June at the Mora/O’Neill barn. His stall was not too far away from my beloved Goldencents, and he was just the sweetest colt. I fed him carrots and he was a little shy compared to Goldie, who just is used to the attention. There’s definitely something special about Wake Up Nick I can’t wait to follow his road to Kentucky Derby 2015 and beyond!
#3 – Mr. Z: He stands out as the favorite at 5-2 odds on the morning line. Trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, the Malibu Moon colt has not won in his last five starts, however still makes his presence known on track. Mr. Z has shown through his last three performances — fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity and fifth in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes — that he is comfortable racing at this distance. I feel that we have not seen the best of Mr. Z and perhaps this is the race for him to shine.
#4 – Conquest Tsunami: Like Wake Up Nick, Conquest Tsunami has won five of his six career starts. He most recently set the pace and kept the lead in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs on Oct. 26. Having most of his success on turf or synthetic surfaces, this will be Conquest Tsunami’s third start on dirt with Shaun Bridgmohan lined up to ride at 4-1 on the morning line.
#10 – Ocho Ocho Ocho: One of several lightly raced horses on the field, Ocho Ocho Ocho made his racing debut on Oct. 11 and has won both of his starts. He is listed at 6-1 on the morning line. Early speed seems to come natural to him, and if Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith is able to maintain a comfortable pace, the Street Sense colt could stretch out and be quite the closer. Bet On It.
Here’s how I would bet the Delta Downs Jackpot on a $20 Budget using: #3 Mr. Z, #8 Wake Up Nick, #4 Conquest Tsunami, #10 Ocho Ocho Ocho
Bet A: $6 win-place-show: #8 Wake Up Nick ($18)
Bet B: $1 trifecta part wheel: 3,4,8,10 with 3,4,8,10 with 4,8,10 ($18)
Bet C: $2 exacta part wheel: 4,8,10 with 3,4,8,10 ($18)
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