Winner Earns 10 points on Road to 2016 Kentucky Derby
VINTON, La. (November 21, 2015) – Trainer Keith Desormeaux put his full trust in his younger brother Kent, who rode 4-5 favorite Exaggerator in Saturday’s $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot at Delta Downs Racetrack and it paid off with a victory by a neck over Sunny Ridge. The victory by Exaggerator in the 1 1/16 mile race for 2-year-olds earned him 10 points towards a starting position in the 2016 Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
Breaking from the ninth post position, Kent Desormeaux guided Exaggerator, a Kentucky bred son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, to the front around the first turn and up backstretch. Sunny Ridge, ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr. stayed close to Exaggerator from the 3/8th pole to the wire but could not pass the winner.
Exaggerator ($3.80), owned by Matthew Bryan of Big Chief Racing, won his third race in five starts, and earned a $600,000 first prize for his connections and increased his career earnings to $938,000. It was his first start since a troubled fourth-place finish in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile three weeks ago. Exaggerator won the Saratoga Special in August and was second in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland prior to the Breeders’ Cup.
Exaggerator completed the 1 1/16 mile Jackpot in 1:46.48 over a muddy track against nine rivals. Sunny Ridge, the 4.4-1 second choice, finished 2 ¾ lengths in front of 17-1 Harlan Punch. Found Money, Whitmore, Forevamo, Texas Jambalaya, Memories of Winter, Classic Cowboy and Iron Dome completed the order of finish.
Exaggerator now has 16 Derby points, and is second to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Nyquist l who has 30 points. Sunny Ridge now has eight points; Harlan’s Punch earned two points and Found Money has one point.
“I told him (Kent) to get him settled and the rest is up to him,” said Keith Desormeaux on pre-race instructions to his brother. “He made the decision to get Exaggeratior to the lead. He could easily have taken him back. That’s why he’s in the Hall of Fame. That was Kent’s judgment call. If he doesn’t take the lead he could be eight wide on a bullring track.”
“It’s making the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile) more aggravating,” said Kent Desormeaux.” I am certainly happy to do it (win the race) in front of the Louisiana fans and all racing fans. Today he was just allowed to be ridden, be himself and he could really run.”
Keith Desormeaux said that Exaggerator will not race for the rest of the year and will prepare the colt for his 3-year-old campaign in California. Asked about his Kentucky Derby prospects, the trainer said, “He’s bred for it. He has the precociousness and the athleticism for it. The Derby is a long way off so we have time to recover and we had a fun trip today.”
Saturday’s Jackpot also marked the return of jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who had not ridden since January of 2015. The 53-year-old jockey rode Memories of Winter. “It felt great to be back. It was the first time he (Memories of Winter) had dirt in the face, and he got jostled a bit in the first turn and it took a toll on him.”
Carl Moore’s Jet Black Magic scored a big upset in the $400,000 Delta Princess for 2-year-old fillies, defeating 1-5 favorite La Appassionata by 4 ¼ lengths under jockey Roberto Morales. Sent off at 9-1, Jet Black Magic, trained by Bret Calhoun, steadily advanced from sixth place up the backstretch and circled past the previously undefeated La Appassionata on the far turn and stretched out uncontested to the wire. A dark bay or brown Louisiana-bred daughter of Hold Me Back out of Rhodelia by Silver Deputy, Jet Black Magic completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.14 over a muddy track.
In other stakes action Saturday, Giant Cruiser at 26-1 scored another major upset, sweeping the field from last to first to win the $150,000 Louisiana Jewel for 2-year-old Louisiana-bred fillies by one length at 26-1 under Gerard Melancon. The bay filly by Giant Oak, is owned by Eldon Hill and trained by Steve Flint. She completed the 1 mile in 1:44.71 over a sloppy track.
Mayla, the 8-5 favorite, won the $75,000 Orleans Stakes for 3-year-old Louisiana-bred fillies. Trained by Bret Calhoun and ridden to victory by Colby Hernandez, Mayla, a bay daughter of Sharp Humor, covered the seven furlongs in 1:27.24 over a sloppy track.
Sea Vow took the lead early on the backstretch and prevailed throughout to win the Louisiana Legacy for 2-year-old state-breds by two lengths under jockey Alexander Castillo. Trained by Joey Foster, Sea Vow won for the second time in four starts for owner Ronald Webb. She ran the one mile in 1:43.16 on a muddy track.
Cougar Ridge, with Robby Albarado up, won his fourth consecutive race, holding off the favored Departing by three-quarters of a length to win the $250,000 Delta Mile for 3-year-olds and up. A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of 2001 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Johannesburg, Cougar Ridge is owned by Richard Bahde and trained by Randy Morse. Cougar Ridge completed the 1 mile in 1:39.59 over a muddy track.
Delta Downs Racetrack Casino and Hotel, a property of Boyd Gaming Corporation (NYSE:BYD), features exciting casino action, live horse racing and fun dining experiences. Delta Downs is located in Vinton, Louisiana, on Delta Downs Drive. From Lake Charles, take Exit 7 and from Texas, take Exit 4.
Source: Delta Downs Racetrack