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Bombs away: The ultimate handicapper’s guide to Jackpot Day at Delta Downs

Saturday I will be heading over to Delta Downs for Jackpot Day, which will be their biggest day of racing. If you are going to the races, stop by and say hello. I will be hanging around the first floor on the apron. It should be a beautiful day. People often ask me why I do not do  Delta picks more often because we have so many listeners in the Golden Triangle (and a lot of readers of this site as well). But it is a lot of work and I am time strapped as it is and this particular guide took almost three hours to put together. I usually just look for certain race days and it does not get bigger than this one. (As an aside, this will probably be the last horse racing guide I do until Sam Houston cranks up in January).

I cut my teeth as a handicapper at Delta Downs. I was there practically every weekend in the early ’90s until Sam opened. The facility is much nicer now, but the track itself remains unchanged. Tight turns, a unique sand based surface and a short stretch make it tricky for horses that are unfamiliar with it. Early speed is an advantage but the track usually plays fair. You do need to be in contention before you get out of the far turn to have a realistic shot. It is one of my favorite tracks to bet on and I have historically done very well there.

I handicapped the full card, but will focus primarily on the four big races in the pick 4 sequence. As always, these are opinions. I will give you the horses I think have a chance, and suggest some ways to play the race, but the idea is to bounce a few opinions off you and let you make your own choices. This assumes you have some knowledge of the game or have either purchased Acing Racing or the audio book Acing Racing 2016. As always, these picks are free from one of the greatest horse racing handicappers in the history of the known universe. So enjoy. Even though we had a bad Breeders’ Cup, this will be a winning year no matter what. We murdered the Triple Crown for the third year in a row (seven of the last nine trifectas and all three Belmonts) and Sam Houston earlier in the year. So if you are new and these picks suck…well, sorry you missed out on the good stuff.

This is the final update before the races. I often change things on the fly depending on odds, so follow me on Twitter (@fredfaour) for real time updates.

Good luck and here goes:

RACE 1: Kind of a meh race to start the card. 

The picks: 8-(11) 1-7. Others to use: 5-10. Possible plays: Will look at No. 8 Freakonthelead wheeled in trifecta combos with the 1-3-5-7-10 if the 11 does not draw in. If he does, add him to the ticket. (Check below at race three for a potential pick three play).

RACE 2: Not much money making opportunity here. The Karl Broberg entry looks tough.

The picks: 1-2-7-4. Others to use: 6. I am tossing the three off my tickets here, and he should take some action. Possible plays: Will be using the 1-2 in rolling pick threes, and play a small tri: 1-2 with 1-2-4-5-7 with all, and a 1-2 with 1-2 with all. For a small super, 1-2 with 1-2-4-7 with 1-2-4-5-7 with all.

RACE 3: First stakes race on the card. Bret Calhoun looks like he has this surrounded with three nice entrants. I will take a stab with the longest price of the three, Show Em The Heat, who has a nice win over the surface and should really thrive with more distance. The five horse could be a very sneaky long shot in here.

The picks: 3-7-10-5. Others to use 2-4. Possible plays: Will key the 3 first and second in trifectas with the 2-4-5-7-10. Also, a possible pick three in the first three races: 1-7-8-11 with 1-2 with 2-3-4-5-7-10.

RACE 4: On to the main card, if you will. Four very nice stakes races with an all-stakes pick four. This is a very competitive race featuring several horses who have run well at Delta. The more I look at this race, it looks like 2013 jackpot winner Rise Up is the controlling pace and should have things all his own way. The 4-1 price is more than fair. Great Minds (2) and Fear The Cowboy (3) have faced off before and both love the track and must be used. Hesinfront (1) was originally my top pick but after running the numbers again I like Rise Up and the 2 and 3 better. Sammy Mandeville might be an interesting exacta and trifecta long shot but I think for the purposes of the pick 4 you can use 1-2-3-4.

The picks: 4-3-2-1. Others to use: 5. Possible plays: Probably just going pick four here (see the play after race 7). But if Rise Up goes off over 3-1, I will play him to win and put him in exactas with 1-2-3-5.

RACE 5: Most of the attention here will go to two flashy shippers, The Truth or Else (3) and Black Bear (10). I like a local long shot in Zarb’s Gift (7), who has really turned in some nice performances in his last four starts. He is improving, should get a nice trip just off the speed and could take this at a nice price (although he won’t be 24-1 again as he was last time). Sneaky long shots that could be trifecta factors include I Came To Party (5) and Aaron’s Bluff (4).

The picks: 7-3-10-5. Others to use: 4-8. Possible plays: Will use the 3-7 and possibly 10 in pick threes and fours. Will do trifectas with the 3-7 over the 3-4-5-7-8-10.

RACE 6: This is very much a spread deep kind of race. Several fillies could jump up and win this. Golden Mischief (1) has won three straight, including the prep for this over the track. Bob Baffert’s Jilly (2) is lightly raced and could be anything. Caroline Test (3) has dangerous early speed. San Antonio Stroll (6) could easily shock this group at 20-1. You can also make cases for Chanel’s Legacy (7), Shayne’s Girlfriend (8), Cajun Delta Dawn (9) and Dude Fantasy (10). I will likely key around the two outside horses and hope a nasty speed duel ensues.

The picks: 9-10-1-6. Others to use: 2-3-4-5-7-8. Yep, all of them. Possible plays: The pick four will be deep with the 1-2-6-7-8-9-10. Maybe more. Will also play exactas and trifectas with the 9 keyed first and second with the other horses listed above. Might also hit a tri ticket keying 9 with 1-6-10 with all and 1-6-10 with 9 with all and hope for a kill shot. 

RACE 7: The big one, the Delta Jackpot. Last year, Exaggerator used this as a springboard to one of the best 3-year-old seasons in the country, winning races like the Santa Anita Derby and Preakness. While I could see a lot of scenarios here, Gunnevera (6), Balandeen (7), Hot Sean (8) and J Boys Echo (9) are the horses with the best chance of winning. I expect a better effort from Tip Tap Tapizar (10) and am mildly intrigued by Daingerfield (5).

The picks: 9-6-7-8. Others to use: 1-2-4-5-10. Possible plays: For pick four purposes, I will likely use the top four. On some backup tickets I will drop in the 2-4-5-10 as well. For trifectas, depending on how my day is going, I like the idea of keying the 9 first second and third with the 2-5-6-7-8 second and 1-2-4-5-6-7-8-10 in third. Then go 2-5-6-7-8 with with 1-2-4-5-6-7-8-10 and finally putting the 9 in third and moving the 1-2-4-5-6-7-8-10 to second. If you don’t want to spend that much, just throw the 9 in the 2-3 slots, especially if you are alive in the pick 4.

How to attack the pick 4: This all depends on your budget. If you are working with a $100 play, I would go 1-2-3-4 with 3-7 with 1-2-6-7-9-10 with 6-7-8-9. That’s a $96 play for .50. If you have a bigger bankroll, add the 10 in leg 2 and the 4-5 in leg four (which is what I will be doing). If you don’t have that big of a bankroll, you can take a stand in race 1 and single the 4. On that ticket, I would go 4 with 3-7-10 with 1-2-6-7-9-10 with 6-7-8-9. That one is only $36 and I feel very good about that ticket for the price. You can also add the 4-5 in the final leg and it will be just $54.

RACE 8: I might leave after race 7, because it’s a long drive and I will likely need alcohol by then. No strong opinion on this race.

The picks: 4-10-7-1. Others to use: 5-6-8-9. Possible plays: Box the top four in exactas or use in late pick threes.

RACE 9: Kathballu (6) looks like a standout on numbers, and don’t expect to get the 6-5 morning line price. We will take a shot against her with lightly raced Time Share (5), which could have a huge upside and is 8-1.

The picks: 5-6-1-3. Others to use: That group should do it. Possible plays: Probably just going to play the 5 to win and use 5 and 6 in the pick threes.

RACE 10: Only a five-horse field. Like the 1 to win it but the price will be short.

The picks: 1-2-5-4. Others to use: Um, no. There is only one other horse in the race. Possible plays: Might just pop hard exactas with the 1 over the 2-5. 

RACE 11: If you are still here for this race, you are a bigger degenerate than I am. But that’s OK. You are my kind of degenerate. I like the 3 Emperor T stretching back out to get a nice piece of this.

The picks: 3-8-5-7. Others to use: 1-2-4. Possible plays: Key the 3 in the trifectas first and second. Go 3 with 1-5-7-8 with ALL, and 1-5-7-8 with 3 with ALL.

3 Comments on Bombs away: The ultimate handicapper’s guide to Jackpot Day at Delta Downs

  1. Thanks for all the work that goes into this!


  2. Hey Fred – love all of your columns and check your site religiously every day. One suggestion that I think would improve these gambling guides greatly: could you (and your web guys) work it so that when you edit/update an article that the edits show up in a different color (red or blue maybe)? I digested the entire article yesterday and the different color font would make digesting the changes MUCH easier. Thanks for all you do and here’s to a great day of racing!!


  3. What’s up Fred. Thanks for all your help with this. Looks like he 8 horse is scratched in the first race.


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