Rise Up wins Delta Downs Jackpot
VINTON (AP) — Gerard Melancon won the Delta Downs Jackpot for the second time in three years, guiding Rise Up to a six-length victory Saturday in the $1 million race.
Rise Up, trained by Tom Amoss, ran 1 1/16 miles in a stakes record 1:44.71 and paid $6.20, $4 and $2.80. Casiguapo returned $6 and $4 while Rankhasprivileges paid $4 to show in the field of 10 2-year-olds. The old mark was 1:44.72 set by Big Drama in 2008.
Rise Up won his previous start, the Jean Lafitte Stakes, also by six lengths on Oct. 26 at Delta Downs. The Jackpot was his fifth career start and fourth victory.
"I knew we had a great horse coming out of the 10-hole," Melancon said. "I think going a mile and a 1/16th, the 10 hole is really a great spot. I had all kinds of options."
Rise Up also earned 10 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series. Casiguapo earned four points, Rankhasprivileges two and Roman Unbridled one.
Three horses from last year's Delta Downs Jackpot went on to run in the Kentucky Derby.
Melancon said Rise Up "got a little rank" at the beginning with a couple horses inside of him.
"I was like, 'Well I don't want to get hung up in a speed duel with these.' If I'm going to go fast, I'd rather be by myself where maybe I can get a little breather," Melancon said. "He came back to me and set his ears straight up and I was like, 'This is where I want you.' Around the turn, I said from here if they beat us, they're going to have to outrun us."
After Rise Up found some space, none of the horses in the field were able to catch up.
"It helped a great deal that he was outside of horses and did not have horses breathing on him," Amoss said. "I've been guilty so many times of taking horses with so much tactical speed and making him something he's not, maybe I almost did that today, but Gerard took it out of my hands and let him use his speed correctly and got us the win today. So he gets the gold star."
Coastline, the 8-5 favorite, finished eighth after stumbling out of the gate.
Melancon won the Delta Downs Jackpot in 2011 on Sabercat. He is the first jockey to win the Jackpot twice.
"I rode my first race here, in February, it'll be 30 years ago. I feel confident riding here, riding for Tom," he said. "It feels really good. I'm riding for the right people and getting the right horses and I know this track really well. It's a blessing. It's my home state."
The win was Amoss' first in the race.
Earlier in the day, Grand Contender set a new track record in the Delta Mile with a time of 1:36.89. Grand Contender was also ridden by Melancon and trained by Amoss.
Tepin, trained by last year's Jackpot winner Mark Casse and ridden by Miguel Mena, won the Delta Downs Princess.