Delta Downs Jackpot Gourmet Dinner starts his 2011 campaign in the Holy Bull.

Delta Downs Jackpot Gourmet Dinner starts his 2011 campaign in the Holy Bull.

Coady Photography

Holy Bull Starts Florida's Triple Crown Trail

Well-matched field of nine entered in Gulfstream Park's one-mile test Jan.30.

The withdrawal of Boys At Tosconova  leaves a wide open field of nine sophomores to contest the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 30, the first major step toward the Florida Derby (gr. I) this spring.

The race, a one-turn mile, is the 10th on the Gulfstream card with a 5:26 p.m. EST starting time. It is part of a program that includes the $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies, part of a big stakes weekend at the south Florida track.

Boys at Tosconova, expected to be the favorite in the the Holy Bull, was withdrawn a day before the Jan. 27 draw due to trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.'s concerns about the colt's readiness. But what remains is a solid field that includes stakes-tested colts such as Mucho Macho Man , Gourmet Dinner, and Major Gain, as well as some highly anticipated newcomers, led by Dialed In  and the fast-improving Black N Beauty.

Of those mentioned, only Ahmed Zayat's Black N Beauty, an Ontario-bred son of Devil His Due that cost just $2,500 as a 2009 Keeneland September yearling, has raced during the young Gulfstream meet.

Black N Beauty won impressively Jan. 7 in a first-level allowance at one mile by 2 1/2 lengths while leading all the way under Kent Desormeaux for his second straight win. The smallish dark bay/brown colt broke his maiden as a heavy favorite at Churchill Downs last November, which was his third start.

"He’s a nice looking little colt," said trainer Dale Romans. "He was late in the sale, and it wasn’t a popular sire--and there was no reserve. Sometimes you get lucky.”

Romans knows that Black N Beauty, who drew post 4 and is ridden once more by Desormeaux, is facing a tough group in the Holy Bull. “You’ve got Gourmet Dinner and Kathy Ritvo’s horse (Mucho Macho Man) -- they’re pretty nice horses, and they’re pretty even after that,” he said.

“We’ll see how he progresses against the best, and then we’ll leave it up to Mr. Zayat.”

Dialed In jumps right into the deep end of the pool in the Holy Bull. Robert LaPenta's son of Mineshaft  broke his maiden at first asking at Churchill Nov. 12, rallying from 10th under Julien Leparoux in the 6 1/2-furlong test. He broke sluggishly but recovered impressively to score by a half-length. It is his only start to date.

The colt, a $475,000 2009 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga select yearling sale purchase, was to have made his return in a strong Jan. 21 allowance but was scratched by trainer Nick Zito when the track came up sloppy. He has been training at Palm Meadows, where he breezed a half-mile in :47 2/5 Jan. 24, the fastest of 25 workouts.

Dialed In leaves from the far outside gate with Leparoux aboard.

Mucho Macho Man has been burning up the Gulfstream track in the mornings for Ritvo, posting three consecutive bullet moves at five furlongs this month. The Florida-bred Macho Uno  colt most recently went the distance in :59 flat, the fastest of 38 Jan. 23.

Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing Stable, Mucho Macho Man broke his maiden in his third start Sept. 19 at Monmouth Park and followed that with consecutive runner-up finishes behind well-regarded To Honor and Serve in the Nashua (gr. II) and Remsen (gr. II) stakes at Aqueduct. This will be his his first race since the Nov. 27 Remsen, where he was beaten by two lengths at odds of 15-1.

Mucho Macho Man will be ridden by Eibar Coa, who was aboard in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen.

Late-running Gourmet Dinner, 20-1 winner of the Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. III) Nov. 20, also gets his 2011 campaign started for owner William Terrill and trainer Steve Standridge. The Trippi colt has not raced since shipping to Southern California for a fourth-place showing in Hollywood Park's CashCall Futurity (gr. I) Dec. 18. Regular rider Sebastian Madrid has the call on Gourmet Dinner, who must overcome the rail.

Just to his outside is Gary and Mary West's homebred Major Gain, the only other graded stakes winner in the field.

The son of More Than Ready  captured the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) on Polytrack in September for trainer Wayne Catalano. He followed that effort with a fifth in Keeneland's Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) and a close third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Nov. 27, his only try on dirt. Javier Castellano rides Major Gain for the first time.

Other stakes winners in the field are the Kelly Breen-trained Sweet Ducky, owned by Lori and George Hall, and the Florida-based Ribo Bobo, trained by Manuel Azpurua and owned by Rapputi Stables and partners.

Trainer Richard Violette Jr. is represented by Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence's Leave of Absence, most recently a strong closing second in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes over the track Jan. 8. The same owners also entered Printing Press, who was second to Black N Beauty last time out and was twice stakes-placed last year for trainer Teresa Pompay. They race uncoupled.

The Holy Bull is the first Gulfstream Park qualifying race for the Preakness 5.5, which offers $5.5 million in bonuses to the owner and trainer of a horse able to win either the Holy Bull or the Feb. 26 Fountain of Youth (gr. II) before going on to win the April 3 Florida Derby and the May 21 Preakness Stakes (both gr. I).

$400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III, Race 10, 5:26 p.m.), 3-Year-olds, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Gourmet Dinner (FL), S O Madrid, 120, S W Standridge
2. Major Gain (KY), J Castellano, 120, W M Catalano
3. Printing Press (KY), E Trujillo, 116, T M Pompay
4. Black N Beauty (ON), K J Desormeaux, 116, D L Romans
5. Ribo Bobo (FL), E S Prado, 120, M J Azpurua
6. Leave of Absence (FL), R Maragh, 116, R A Violette Jr.
7. Mucho Macho Man (FL), E Coa, 116, K Ritvo
8. Sweet Ducky (KY), J Bravo, 120, K J Breen
9. Dialed In (KY), J R Leparoux, 116, N P Zito