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Gourmet Dinner brings plenty of experience to Holy Bull
Delta Jackpot (G3) winner GOURMET DINNER (Trippi) tops a field of nine three-year-olds in Sunday's $400,000 Holy Bull S. (G3), and his main top rivals include DIALED IN (Mineshaft) and BLACK N BEAUTY (Devil His Due), a pair of promising colts who will be making their stakes debuts in the one-mile event at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Steve Standridge, Gourmet Dinner owns plenty of stakes experience, winning two divisions of the Florida Stallion series before recording a 2 1/4-length score in the lucrative Delta Jackpot, and the bay colt exits a fourth in the December 18 CashCall Futurity (G1) over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track. He already has enough graded earnings for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and will push his career bankroll past the $1 million mark with a victory Sunday. Gourmet Dinner tuned up for the Holy Bull with a five-furlong bullet workout in :58 2/5 on January 20, and he'll retain the services of jockey Sebastian Madrid while breaking from the rail.
Dialed In turned heads when winning his initial outing for Nick Zito and the well-built sophomore will make his second career start in the Holy Bull after being scratched from a recent allowance race due to a sloppy track. He broke slowly in his lone appearance, a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs in November, and looked beaten turning for home, but the dark bay closed rapidly through the stretch to win going away. Zito has the reputation for giving his first-time starters a race, and the two-time Derby winner is bullish about his colt's Triple Crown prospects. Dialed In has recorded three consecutive bullet workouts in preparation, including a :47 2/5 half-mile on Monday, and Julien Leparoux will be back aboard.
Black N Beauty will attempt to build upon an impressive showing over the track, capturing a January 7 entry-level allowance by 2 1/2 lengths, and the Dale Romans pupil has won his last two starts in front-running fashion. The Canadian-bred colt appears to be the likely pacesetter with Kent Desormeaux.
Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) hero MAJOR GAIN (More Than Ready) merits respect off a commendable third, beaten only a half-length, in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) at Churchill Downs. He'll cut back to a one-turn distance for Wayne Catalano, and Javier Castellano will pick up the mount. The Holy Bull also marks the return of MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno), who concluded his juvenile season with a pair of runner-up finishes to the well-regarded To Honor and Serve (Bernardini). The Kathy Ritvo trainee owns the best BRIS Speed rating (101) in the field and will keep Eibar Coa in the saddle.
LEAVE OF ABSENCE (Harlan's Holiday) recorded a good-looking maiden win at Aqueduct two starts back and rallied well for second when making his stakes bow in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid over the track on January 8. He's eligible to move forward off that effort for conditioner Richard Violette Jr. The remaining contestants are SWEET DUCKY (Pulpit), a multiple stakes winner who was last seen finishing fourth in the Delta Jackpot; Calder stakes winner and Grade 3 runner-up RIBO BOBO (Louis Quatorze); and PRINTING PRESS (Tapit), who finished second in the aforementioned allowance to Black N Beauty.