Sabercat wins Delta Downs Jackpot

BY foxsports • November 19, 2011

Sabercat surged from the middle of the pack on the final turn to finish ahead of Basmati by four lengths in the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot on Saturday.

Sabercat, ridden by Gerard Melancon, ran 1-1/16 miles in 1 minute, 46.62 seconds and returned $18 on a win bet in the field of 10 2-year-olds. Longview Drive was third.

Sabercat earned $600,000. Kentucky Derby entries are decided by purse money in graded races, which means the Jackpot puts the Steven Asmussen-trained Sabercat on solid footing to gain a spot in the May race.

''We've got a ways to go to get there, but that would be a good dream,'' owner Ron Winchell said.

Drill, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, finished seventh. The favorite was neck and neck with My Adonis until they were overtaken on the final turn.

It was a third straight victory for Sabercat, who started his career with three straight losses — at Saratoga Race Course and twice at Churchill Downs — before rebounding with two wins at Monmouth Park.

''It took a few starts for him to come around,'' Winchell said. ''When he went a mile and 16th, we decided to head towards the Breeder's Cup, but he got a little out of rhythm so our backup plan was to come to Jackpot. I like the backup plan now.''

Melancon maneuvered Sabercat to the middle of the pack heading into the last turn of the dirt track. From there, the thoroughbred followed Basmati in an outside surge to the front of the field.

As they came down the stretch, Sabercat overtook Basmati.

''I found me a good spot going into the last turn, and he came through horses like a champ,'' said Melancon, the sixth jockey to ride Sabercat. ''I did have to steady him a little bit behind (Basmati) because it looked like he ducked out a little bit. Then I got him back on, and he's all business.''

An early bump dropped Sabercat to the back.

''We had a terrible start; we got slammed pretty good leaving there,'' said Melancon, a five-time winner in the race. ''All I could do was just save ground.''


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