Timeform US expert Mark Milligan looks towards the weekend's action and picks out a couple of bets...
"The highlight of the Delta Downs racing season is undoubtedly this Saturday’s Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot..."
The highlight of the Delta Downs racing season is undoubtedly this Saturday's Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot (off 17.15 local time, 22.15 BST). Run over a mile and half a furlong, a decent field of two-year-olds line up in this $1 million event, headed by the impressive Coastline and the useful Casiguapo.
Coastline, a $190k purchase, only made his debut in September, finishing second in a maiden race at Churchill Downs over six furlongs. He then stepped up on that effort - when switching surfaces to the polytrack at Keeneland - running out an impressive winner, having tracked the pace. That seven-furlong win then persuaded connections to step up in trip even further, and the result was even more impressive. In a one mile minor-stakes race at Churchill Downs, with a field containing Grade 1-placed Ride On Curlin, Coastline pressed a quick pace, before drawing away to win by three lengths, earning a 105p Timeform form rating in the process. While his TimeformUS speed figures haven't quite met the same standard yet, that is more a function of the way his races have been run, rather than any slight on his latent ability.
Casiguapo is trained in Florida, and easily won a five-and-a-half furlong Calder maiden in July. That eleven-length victory earned him a place against the big boys at Saratoga. Going off an unfancied 30/1 shot, he belied those odds by finishing second behind Strong Mandate in the Grade 1Hopeful Stakes. That good run was backed up by a fourth-place finish in the following month's Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont, and he should appreciate dropping back in class here.
Rum Point is another who has been plying his trade at the top level, his last three starts all coming in Grade 1 events. His trainer Doug O'Neill took this event last year with Goldencents, and has another decent candidate this time around. Rum Point has been campaigned mainly on synthetic surfaces, running creditably when fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland behind We Miss Artie. He was then out of his depth, switched to dirt for the first time, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, finishing a well-beaten twelfth. That run wasn't enough to conclude definitively that Rum Point doesn't act on dirt, and given his pedigree, there's no reason why he shouldn't be equally adept on this surface as he is on synthetics.
The main local hope would appear to be the Tom Amoss-trained Rise Up. Purchased privately by current connections after an impressive Mountaineer win in August, he scored in emphatic style on this track last month, taking a minor stakes race by six and a half lengths. That effort followed on from a poor showing in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs in September, a run that is probably best forgiven, as his new trainer was presumably still trying to find out about him. That last win suggests that they now have the key to this horse, and he must be respected, despite not having the ideal draw in stall 10.
Slot machine revenue is the main reason that minor tracks like Delta Downs can put up huge prize money for races like this, and they have been rewarded by attracting a good quality field. While not guaranteed to earn you the mega-bucks that the winner of this race will garner, a wager on Coastline has a good chance of hitting the jackpot.
On the same card, the preceding Grade 3 Delta Downs Princess Stakes (off 16.43 local time, 21.43 GMT) is a $500k race for two-year-old fillies, run over a mile. This looks a competitive event, with three fillies all having leading claims.
Morning line favourite Miss Behaviour has looked an out-and-out sprinter in her four runs to date, and the percentage call has to be to take her on. Bahnah has posted useful form in winning three of her four lifetime starts, and has leading claims. The one to be with, however, looks like the Californian raider Concave. She actually has a win over top US two-year-old filly She's A Tiger to her name, and her disappointing effort in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race is easily forgiven. A reproduction of her previous form gives her a major chance in this race, and odds anywhere near her forecast price of 4.5 would appear to represent great value.
Back Coastline in the Delta Downs Jackpot
Back Concave in the Delta Down Princess