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Delta Downs opens thoroughbred season tonight

Last Modified: Thursday, October 10, 2013 8:02 PM

By Albert Burford / American Press

VINTON — Today is opening day at Delta Downs as the thoroughbred season begins at 5:45 p.m.

The opening weekend will include live programs tonight and Saturday before moving to its regular schedule each Wednesday through Saturday until the season wraps up on March 15. There will be no races on Thanksgiving or Christmas days.

“We’re thrilled to start another season,” said Delta Downs race announcer Don Stevens. “We’ve got a great stakes schedule with over $4.6 million in stakes purse money to be handed out, 32 stakes races. It’s going to be a very exciting season.”

The highlight of the schedule is the 11th running of the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot on Nov. 23. Many Delta Downs Jackpot winners go on to race in other high-stakes events, such as the Kentucky Derby. Also on Jackpot Day is the $500,000 Delta Downs Princess race. By the end of the afternoon, $2.2 million will have been awarded. There is a special 1:15 p.m. post time on Jackpot Day.

“We made a lot of progress in the last few years with our signature race, the Delta Downs Jackpot, and that looks to be bigger and better than ever this year,” Stevens said.

To start the season, there are 11 races a night, running from 5:45-10:20 p.m.

“We’ve got plenty of horses to run full fields,” Stevens said. “That’s one thing that makes us stand out to other nighttime tracks in the country, we really fill our races. We have some of the highest average starters per race of any meet anywhere in the country. Of course, people who watch and wager on the races love that because it gives them more opportunities to find value and wager.”

Gerard Melancon, the defending riding title holder from last season with 104 wins, will face challengers and past champions Tracy Hebert and Diego Sanz. Trainer Karl Broberg will look to win his third title in a row after totalling 56 winners last year.

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