Melancon rides Rise Up to win in Delta Downs Jackpot

By By Albert Burford / American Press

VINTON — Local jockey Gerard Melancon became the first jockey to score two victories in the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot

as he rode Rise Up to a six-length win Saturday.

Rise Up, trained by Tom Amoss, ran 1116

miles in 1:44.71 and paid $6.20, $4 and $2.80. Casiguapo placed and had

returns of $6 and $4, while Rankhasprivileges paid

$4 to show in the field of 10 2-year-olds. It was Rise Up’s fourth

victory in five career starts. Rise Up finished first in

the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs on Oct. 26.

Melancon also won the Jackpot on Sabercat in 2011. It was Amoss’ first win in the race.

The 8-5 favorite, Coastline, stumbled out of the gate and was never able to make up the ground, finishing eighth.

Melancon said it was a great feeling to win in front of his family and friends.

“I rode my first race here, in February, it’ll be 30 years ago,” he said. “I feel confident riding here, riding for Tom. It

feels really good. I’m riding for the right people and getting the right horses and I know this track really well. It’s a

blessing. It’s my home state.”

Rise Up, a bay colt, took the $600,000 first-place prize as well as 10 points toward the Kentucky Derby series. Rise Up is

in a four-way tie for third place in the series, which runs through April. Casiguapo earned four points, Rankhasprivileges

two and Roman Unbridled one. Three horses from last year’s Delta Downs Jackpot went on to race in the Derby.

Rise Up entered the race with $201,633 in earnings.

Melancon said he preferred starting from the 10 stall rather than beginning on the inside.

“I knew we had a great horse coming out of the 10 hole,” he said. “I think going a mile and a 1/16th, the 10 hole is really

a great spot. I had all kinds of options.”

Melancon said Rise Up “got a little rank” the first 18 mile with a couple horses inside of him.

“I was like, ‘Well I don’t want to get hung up in a speed duel with these.’ If I’m going to go fast, I’d rather be by myself

where maybe I can get a little breather,” Melancon said. “He came back to me and set his ears straight up and I was like,

‘This is where I want you.’ Around the turn, I said from here if they beat us, they’re going to have to outrun us.”

After Rise Up found space, none of the horses in the field were able to catch up.

“It helped a great deal that he was

outside of horses and did not have horses breathing on him,” Amoss said.

“I’ve been guilty

so many times of taking horses with so much tactical speed and

making him something he’s not; maybe I almost did that today,

but Gerard took it out of my hands and let him use his speed

correctly and got us the win today. So he gets the gold star.”

Earlier in the day, Grand Contender, also ridden by Melancon and trained by Amoss, set a track record in the Delta Mile with

a time of 1:36.89.

Tepin, trained by last year’s Jackpot winner Mark Casse and ridden by Miguel Mena, won the Delta Downs Princess.