Delta Downs opens thoroughbred season tonight

By 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