VINTON, La. — Once he got the lead, nobody was going to catch Gunnevera, who raced to victory in the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot for 2-year-olds Saturday at Delta Downs Racetrack.
Ridden by three-time Eclipse Award winner Outstanding Jockey Javier Castellano, Gunnevera ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:45:15 and won by 5 3/4 lengths over Hot Sean. Gunnevera paid $7.80, $4.40 and 3.40.
“The race worked out perfectly for us,” Castellano. “When I asked him to go he went. This is a good horse who will develop. I think he will be better at the longer lengths.”
Gunnevera earned $600,000 and 10 points in the chase for the Kentucky Derby. The Delta Downs Jackpot is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby Series which gives points to horses in selected races and is the second-richest race for 2-year-olds in North America behind only the Breeders’ Cup for Juveniles.
Bob Baffert trained Hot Sean ($5.40, $4.20) earned four points, and Dangerfield ($8) was third and picked up two points. J Boys Echo finished fourth and received the last point awarded.
Gunnevera needed a little time to get going but was in complete control down the stretch, pulling away from the field. Trained by Antonio Sano, Gunnevera made a winner out of relative racing newcomer Peacock Racing Stables.
“This is a great win for us,” co-owner Jaime Diaz said. “He exceeded our expectations with the way he ran. We think he is going to develop into a very fine horse but we have to wait and see.”
For Diaz and his partners, the victory was a big step in the direction they want to take their racing team.
“We are one of the little guys and we are trying to get where the big guys are,” Diaz said. “The only way you do that is to win and to win big races.”
Diaz said that he will let Sano decide on what path Gunnevera will take in the future.
“We have a great trainer and we trust him,” Diaz said. “This was a big step for us but there is still a long way to go.”
In only her second career start Shane’s Girlfriend won the $400,000 Delta Downs Princess Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. She was ridden by Flavien Prat.