That decision was validated as Mr. Jester won the $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs Friday night, boosting his stock for next year's Kentucky Derby.
The son of Silver Deputy won twice in Louisiana before shipping to Turfway Park for the Kentucky Cup. He crossed the wire second in that Grade III event, but was elevated to the win by disqualification. Rather than ship to Santa Anita for the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile, trainer Steve Wren sent the colt back to the bayous.
Running from off the pace in the Jackpot, Mr. Jester worked his way to the lead on the turn for home and finished 3/4 length ahead of Fire Slam. Perfect Moon was third. The 1 1/16 mile took 1:45.34.
Wren said Mr. Jester will winter at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., pointing for next year's Arkansas Derby and, "like everybody else," hoping to make it to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
In Friday night's companion $250,000 Delta Princess for 2-year-old fillies, Salty Romance went out to a quick lead and extended it to a 5 1/4-length victory at the end of the 1 mile event. The Salt Lake filly finished in 1:39.17 in her first effort around two turns.
Trainer Patrick Biancone said Salty Romance will get a break and resurface in the spring at a to-be-determined time and location.
In other weekend racing, with several East Coast tracks closed by bad weather:
Adoration may have won the Breeders' Cup Distaff in her last start but that wasn't enough to even make her the favorite in Sunday's $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap. And, she didn't win, either. Instead, Star Parade led the parade and didn't fade, extending her margin to 3 1/4 lengths over Adoration at the finish. Bare Necessities, the favorite, was third. Star Parade, an Argentine-bred 4-year-old, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:41.02. Winning rider Victor Espinoza said he let his filly run as she wanted because "she had showed me she could finish. She's got a lot of heart."
Olmodavor came between rivals in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Native Diver Handicap, got the lead and won by 1/2 length over pace-setting Nose The Trade. Chinkapin was third in the scratch-shortened field of five starters. Olmodavor, a Kentucky-bred, 4-year-old son of A.P. Indy ran 9 furlongs in 1:49.16. Becky Witzman, assistant to winning trainer Richard Mandella, said, "He's been second to Mineshaft, second to Medaglia d'Oro. He'll get better with time." She added the colt may be considered for the Dubai World Cup.
Also Saturday, Lady Annaliese rallied in the stretch run to win the $65,000 Hermosa Beach Handicap by 2 1/2 lengths over Go On Baby. Sunday Whisper was third in the 1 1/2-mile turf test for fillies and mares. Lady Annaliese, with Alex Solis up, finished in 2:27.07 on firm turf.
Calder Race Course
Political Attack rated behind the early leaders in Saturday's $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap, seized the lead early in the stretch run and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Millennium Dragon. Sforza was third and the favorite, Del Mar Show, made a late run from well back, only to finish fourth. Political Attack, a 4-year-old son of Hawk Attack, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:45.81. "This is about as far as he probably wants to go," said winning trainer Michael Matz. "So that will be it until something at Gulfstream."
New Economy came from well back in the pack under Rosemary Homeister Jr. to win Saturday's co-featured $100,000 My Charmer Handicap for fillies and mares. The 5-year-old Red Ransom mare got the 9 furlongs on the green course in 1:46.97, beating Something Ventured by 1/2 length. Ivanavinalot was third. Trainer Graham Motion said he will send New Economy to the La Prevoyante on Dec. 27, then a decision will be made whether to retire her or race another year.
Rocky Gulch, the odds-on favorite, led all the way to a 3 1/2-length victory in Saturday's $125,000 Red Hedeman Mile Handicap for New Mexico-breds. Jonnygetachex was second and Mostly Ghostly was third. Rocky Gulch, a gelded son of Dry Gulch, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.46.
G.W.'s Skippie, sent to the post at odds of 45-1, rallied from a pace-stalking trip to win Saturday's $60,000 Tenacious Handicap by 1 1/4 lengths over Spanish Empire. Skate Away was third. G.W.'s Skippie, a son of Skip Away, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.64. "I got a perfect trip," said winning rider Frank Lovato Jr. "My horse broke well and it allowed me to put him in the garden spot."
Golden Gate Fields
Boston Common lost little time getting to the front in Saturday's $60,000 Oakland Handicap and, once on the lead, didn't let it go. At the wire, the 4-year-old Boston Harbor gelding was 2 1/2 lengths in front, with My Captain second and More Crafty third. The 6 furlongs went in 1:09.04 on a muddy track. "We knew the rail was the place to be and that he had speed," said winning rider Chad Schvaneveldt. "So when he broke good, I just went on with him."
Affirmed Dancer pressed the pace in Saturday's $50,000 My Charmer Stakes for fillies and mares, put in a bid as the field hit the top of the stretch and won by 3/4 length over a late-running Donnaree. Glitter Act was third and the favorite, My Trusty Cat, finished fifth. Affirmed Dancer, a 4-year-old daughter of Affirmed, ran 1 1/16 mile on a muddy track in 1:45.43.
Cruise Along caught the pace-setters at the top of the stretch in Sunday's $60,000 Geisha Handicap for Maryland-bred distaffers and went on to win by 4 1/2 lengths over Shiny Sheet. Undercover was third. Cruise Along, a daughter of Runaway Groom, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:42.98 in her first victory on dirt. "She just exploded at the eighth pole," said winning jockey Abel Castellano.