Awesome Feather served notice that Florida-bred 2-year-olds need to be taken seriously when she won the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) in decisive fashion a couple of weeks ago. Gourmet Dinner reinforced that point with authority Nov. 20 when he made a huge move on the turn and roared through the stretch for a 2 1/4-length triumph in the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. III) (VIDEO).
Awesome Feather completed a sweep of the Florida Stallion Stakes Series Oct. 16 at Calder Casino & Race Course, something Gourmet Dinner failed to do when he lost the final leg of the series—the In Reality Stakes. Dismissed at 20-1 in the Jackpot, he rebounded in a big way under regular rider Sebastian Madrid to earn his owners, Our Sugar Bear Stable, the $600,000 top prize.
Steve Standridge, winless in 2010 entering the race, picked a fine time to earn his first victory of the year. He took over training of Gourmet Dinner prior to the In Reality after Peter Gulyas saddled him to wins in the first three starts of his career. Gourmet Dinner wore blinkers for the first time in the Jackpot.
Further cementing the 2-year-old competition in Florida was the runner-up finish of Decisive Moment, who ran third in the In Reality, a length behind Gourmet Dinner. He was sent off at 45-1 in the Jackpot, completing a whopping $759.80 exacta. Clubhouse Ride , who shipped in from California, was third at 13-1, filling out a $9,748.40 trifecta.
Sent off as the 2-1 favorite in a field of 10, New York-bred Bug Juice shot right to the lead under Javier Castellano and ensured a wicked pace by posting fractions of :22.66, :46.56, and 1:11.91. Decisive Moment and Kerwin Clark raced just off the leader, while Aces N Kings, Rush Now, and Sweet Ducky were also up close.
It was around the second turn that Gourmet Dinner made his winning three-wide move, as he rallied from mid-pack and came like he was shot out of a cannon while passing the two leaders. The bay son of Trippi opened up a 1 1/2-length lead with a furlong remaining and was never threatened in the stretch. Decisive Moment finished 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Clubhouse Ride and Pat Valenzuela for second. Sweet Ducky was fourth.
Morning-line favorite Blue Laser was taken out of the race going into the far turn by Aces N Kings, who failed to negotiate the turn under Calvin Borel and bolted into the path of Blue Laser and Dreamsrunwild. Borel was dismounted during the mishap and was later diagnosed with a broken jaw. Blue Laser did not finish the race.
The final time for 1 1/16 miles on the fast dirt surface was 1:45.23.
“The horse was training good,” said Madrid, who has ridden Gourmet Dinner in all five of his starts. “He was ready. The race set up perfectly for me. (Standridge) told me to get into good position, don’t get too far back. I was confident in this horse.”
Though Gourmet Dinner would have plenty of earnings to get into the 2011 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Standridge was not ready to talk about any future plans for his talented colt.
“No plans yet. We’re just going to enjoy today,” he said.
“We could have run in Florida, but we decided to take a chance because of the money involved. You don’t get a chance to run for this kind of money very often so we took a shot. We came for the purse.”
The winner broke his maiden in July at Calder and then won the first two legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes Series, all sprints. He went two turns for the first time in the In Reality, missing by 1 1/2 lengths to Reprized Halo.
Gourmet Dinner was bred in Florida by Ocala Stud and William J. Terrill. Out of the Pentelicus mare Potluck Dinner, he was a $40,000 buy at the OBS Spring sale of 2-year-olds in training. He has now earned $809,660.
Gourmet Dinner paid $40, $14.60 and $8.60. Decisive Moment, trained by Juan Arias for Just For Fun Stable, paid $34.40 and $17.20. Clubhouse Ride was $9.20 to show.