The $ 1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot (Gr. 3) takes place for the 14th time on Saturday, November 19 and on Saturday night the Vinton, Louisiana racetrack hosted the $ 200,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes, which serves as a prep race for the richest event of the year. Barry and Joni Butzow’s Line Judge proved best in the one-mile affair for 2-year-olds with jockey C. J. McMahon in the saddle for trainer Joe Sharp.
Line Judge broke well from the gate and volleyed for the lead with Hard to Be Good through and opening quarter-mile in 23.69 seconds. The pair ran together up the backstretch before Line Judge began to get clear while going the half-mile in 48.27 and three-quarters in 1:13.12.
When the field turned for home the eventual winner widened his margin through the stretch and hit the finish line 3-3/4 lengths in front of Tip Tap Tapizar, who rallied belatedly. Cohen’s Kat, the even-money favorite, was along for third, another 1-1/2 lengths behind the runner-up. Line Judge covered the eight furlongs of the Jean Lafitte in 1:39.79 over a fast dirt surface.
The victory by Line Judge was his third in a row and his second straight stakes score. His only loss came in his career debut when he finished second. All of his previous experience came at Canterbury Park while sprinting. The winner’s paycheck of $ 120,000 Saturday night raised his overall bankroll to $ 167,180.
Bred in Kentucky by Mr. & Mrs. Richard S. Kaster, Line Judge is a bay colt by Spring At Last, out of the Thunder Gulch mare Reigning Dynasty. He was purchased by his connections for $ 55,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2015.
Sent off at odds of 8-1, Line Judge paid $ 18.20 to win, $ 5.60 to place and $ 2.60 to show. Tip Tap Tapizar was worth $ 3.20 to place and $ 2.10 to place. Cohen’s Kat returned $ 2.10 to show.
By virtue of his win in the Jean Lafitte, Line Judge now gets first preference in the $ 1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot, which is contested at 1-1/16 miles and offers qualifying points in the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby Series’ on a 10-4-2-1 scale. Last year’s Jackpot winner, Exaggerator, finished second in the 2016 Kentucky Derby and won three grade 1 races before being retired recently.
Delta Downs will begin its second week of live racing on Wednesday night with another 11-race program that gets underway at 5:40 pm CT. Next week’s action includes the $ 100,000 Magnolia Stakes on Friday night and the $ 100,000 Gold Cup on Saturday.
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