VINTON, La. (November 19, 2016) – With a powerful move at the end of the backstretch, Peacock Racing Stables’ Gunnevera came from last to first sweeping to a 5-¾ length victory over Hot Sean in Saturday’s $1,000,000, G3 Delta Downs Jackpot for 2-year-olds at Delta Downs Racetrack, and earned 10 points towards an automatic starting position in the 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Ridden by three-time Eclipse Award winning jockey Javier Castellano, Gunnevera, trained by Venezuelan Antonio Sano, paid $7.80 as the 2.90 favorite in the 10-horse field. A chestnut Kentucky-bred son of Dialed In out of the Unbridled mare Unbridled Ridge, Gunnevera completed the 1 1/16th mile race in 1:45.15 over a fast track with Peacock Racing taking home the $600,000 first prize.
Gunnevera has now won two graded stakes in six career starts, having captured the Grade 2 Saratoga Special at Saratoga Race Course on August 14. He came into the Jackpot off a fifth -place finish in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland on October 8, a race won by Classic Empire, who went on to win the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
“He’s a come from behind horse and I wanted to see how the race unfolded in the first turn,” said Castellano. “I wanted to take advantage of the early speed and save ground and it worked out perfectly. When I asked him a little bit (on the backstretch) he responded with a beautiful stride. He’s a great developing horse and the way he finished I think will get better with more distance.”
Peacock Racing Stable is comprised of Solomon Del-Valle and Guillermo Guerra of Venezuela and Jaime Diaz of Spain. Trainer Antonio Sano was the leading trainer in Venezuela 19 times. Peacock Racing has been active in the U.S. for about 1-½ years according to Diaz, and Gunnevera is the stable’s second purchase, acquiring the colt for $16,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September sale.
“We are a new barn but we are having a good time taking it race by race,” said Diaz. Regarding preparations for next year’s Kentucky Derby, Diaz added, “We will probably run in Florida and likely point to the Fountain of Youth stakes along the way.
Hot Sean, trained by Bob Baffert, led the field at the quarter pole and held the advantage to the top of the stretch, but was no match for the winner. Dangerfield, 18-1, finished third followed in order by J Boys Echo, Balandeen, Pat On the Back, Thirstforlife, Tip Tap Tapizar, Line Judge and Our Stormin Norman. Hot Sean earned 4 Kentucky Derby Points, Dangerfield, 2, and J Boys Echo, 1.
In the race preceding the Jackpot, the $400,000 Delta Downs Princess (G3) for 2-year-old fillies, ERJ Racing, W.C. Racing and Dennis O’Neill’s Shane’s Girlfriend, in just her second start, roared to a 13 ¼- length victory over Cajun Delta Dawn. A bay Florida-bred daughter of Adios Charlie, ridden by Flavien Prat and rained by Doug O’Neill, Shane’s Girlfriend broke her maiden by 5-¾ lengths on October 28 in a six-furlong race at Santa Anita Park. Today, Shane’s Girlfriend finished the one-mile Princess in a stakes record time of 1:37.98 over a fast track against nine fillies.
She earned 10 points toward an automatic starting position in the 2017 Kentucky Oaks (G1). Colorado Avalanche All-Star Defenseman Erik Johnson, is a part owner of Shane’s Girlfriend. Golden Mischief, the 2.9-1 favorite, was 10th early on but could not make up significant ground and finished seventh.
Troy Williams’s Hesinfront (17.60) defeating Great Minds by a neck with odds-on favorite Rise Up winding up fourth, in the $250,000 Delta Mile for 3-year-olds and up. Ridden by Robby Albarado for trainer Keith Bourgeois, Hesinfront, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of War Front, stayed behind the hot pace set by 4-5 Rise Up, and passed four horses in the final 70 yards to earn his third win from 12 starts this year. Heisinfront completed the mile in 1:38.64 over a fast track.
Earlier in day, Castellano rode St. George Stables’ Wildcat Wish to win the $75,000 Sam’s Town for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs. A 3-year-old Florida bred gelding by Wildcat Heir, Wildcat Wish ($12.00) came from off to pace in the 10-horse field to collar Black Bear in the final yards to claim his third win of the year for trainer Efron Loza, Jr. Odds-on favorite The Truth or Else finished third. Wildcat Wish completed the seven furlongs in 1:25.68.
The All-Stakes $200,000 guaranteed 50-cent Pick 4 for races 4-7 of Hesinfront, Wildcat Wish, Shane’s Girlfriend and Gunnevera paid $1088.40.
In the final stakes race of the day, Heider Family Stables and Craig Bernick’s 5-year-old mare Savings Account, the 3-10 favorite, won the $200,000 Treasure Chest at one mile for fillies and mares, running the distance in 1:39.53. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Medaglia d’Oro finished 1-¼ lengths in front of Vieja Luna.
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.