Gourmet Dinner shipped out of Miami on Monday morning headed for Louisiana, where he will run in the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot on Saturday. The 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds is the centerpiece of the Delta Downs meet and will highlight a program of eight stakes worth $2.3 million. The card will be the richest run this year in Louisiana.
Entries for the program will be taken Wednesday, with the Jackpot to be slotted as the seventh race. It will have a post of 4:15 p.m. Central. The Jackpot also will be the final leg of a $100,000-guaranteed pick four that begins with the fourth race during the special daytime card Saturday.
Gourmet Dinner is based at Calder and was to arrive Tuesday morning at Delta, which is located in the small, southwestern Louisiana town of Vinton. He will start as one of the top contenders in the Jackpot, which should draw a full field of 10. Others that officials expect include Blue Laser, winner of the Grade 3 Grey at Woodbine; Bug Juice, a multiple stakes winner against New York-breds who arrived Friday night from Belmont Park; and Sweet Ducky, a multiple stakes winner from Monmouth who breezed a bullet half-mile in 47.80 seconds Saturday morning at Delta.
Gourmet Dinner has won 3 of 4 career starts, including two sprint divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes. He comes into the Jackpot off a runner-up finish in the In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Stakes on Oct. 16, which was his first start at two turns. Gourmet Dinner closed from next to last and was beaten 1 1/2 lengths in the 1 1/16-mile race. His connections would have liked to have see a little more early interest from him in that race, so he will make an equipment change for Saturday.
"We're going to put blinkers on him," said Steve Standridge, who trains Gourmet Dinner for Our Sugar Bear Stable.
Standridge said Gourmet Dinner is to have "a little blowout" over the Delta surface in advance of the Jackpot. He said regular rider Sebastian Madrid has the mount Saturday.
Sweet Ducky's work was the fastest of 83 at the distance last Saturday at Delta.
"It was an awesome work," said Kelly Breen, who trains Sweet Ducky. "He's a natural. I worked him alongside Nacho Friend, a 3-year-old we also brought on the trip, and this horse stayed about a neck in front of him all the way."
Nacho Friend is nominated to two different stakes on the Jackpot card, the $125,000 Delta Mile and the $60,000 Sam's Town.
The Grade 3, $500,000 Princess will go as the sixth race Saturday, with a post of 3:40 p.m. Perfectly Candid, an undefeated stakes winner, and Promise Me a Cat, who is based at Belmont, both arrived Friday night for the race, according to a Delta official.