12/21/2010 3:44PM

Gourmet Dinner's California trip filled with trouble

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Gourmet Dinner, winner of the Delta Downs Jackpot, is being pointed to Gulfstream Park's 3-year-old stakes in 2011.

MIAMI – When trainer Steve Standridge and owner-breeder Bill Terrill made the decision to ship their Delta Jackpot winner Gourmet Dinner across country from his home base at Calder Race Course here to Hollywood Park for last Saturday’s CashCall Futurity, they didn’t expect the bumps in the road they would encounter prior to and during the running of the final Grade 1 race for 2-year-olds in 2010.

Not only did it take 12 hours to complete what would normally be about an eight- to nine-hour trip from door to door just to get Gourmet Dinner to Hollywood Park, they had to endure heavy rains, a wet racetrack, and a 35-minute wait in the paddock while an attempt was made to reshod ultimate winner Comma to the Top.

“The trip was long, the weather was bad, and the track was what I would have called heavy if it were not a synthetic surface,” Standridge said Tuesday. “But the biggest problem we had was how long we walked around the paddock and the lack of time we had to warm up, only about three minutes, before going to the gate.”

Standridge said he complained to the stewards about the delay after 15 minutes.

“At that point, the stewards should have either made the favorite run without the shoe or scratch him,” Standridge said.

Terrill had to put up a $30,000 supplementary fee to enter Gourmet Dinner in the CashCall Futurity, and he also was displeased with the wait.

Things only got worse for Gourmet Dinner and his connections once the gates finally opened.

“He didn’t break sharply, which I attribute to him being a little dull from walking around for 35 minutes, got pinched, and wound up spotting them five lengths right off the bat,” Standridge said. “He made a tremendous run while forced to race wide after that, but he just had too much to do after the break. You can’t spot those types of horses that much ground and expect to win.”

Gourmet Dinner finished fourth in the CashCall Futurity, five lengths behind Comma to the Top.

Standridge said Gourmet Dinner returned from California in good order. He added that he and Terrill would map out future plans when the owner returns from New York after the holidays. Gourmet Dinner has already earned enough graded stakes money to get into the field for the Kentucky Derby by virtue of his win in the Delta Jackpot last month.

“Our first options are either the Holy Bull or Fountain of Youth,” said Standridge, referring to Gulfstream Park’s two major preps for the Grade 1 Florida Derby. “Fortunately, we’ve got the luxury of having enough graded earnings that we don’t have to push him to make all the preps if we don’t want.”

Florida HBPA honors Gordon

Sam Gordon has been named “Man of the Year” by the Florida Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association. The group also honored long-time owner, breeder, and board member Herb Elkins with it’s first ever lifetime achievement award.

Gordon, who is currently serving his sixth year as president of the FHBPA, was honored for his outstanding leadership and peerless negotiating skills, according to a press release from the organization announcing the awards.

Elkins, who owns horses in partnership with his wife Ione, campaigned Seacliff who swept all three legs of the open division of the Florida Stallion Stakes in 1995 along with the 1994 My Dear Girl division winner Fortune Pending.

◗ June Davis, who served as an outrider at racetracks around the country for more than 50 years, died Saturday at the age of 84. Davis, who began her racetrack career working for Hall of Fame trainer Marion Van Berg, had been a permanent fixture at Gulfstream Park for more than four decades and continued to serve as one of the track’s outriders until into her 80s before retiring three years ago.

◗ A field of 10 fillies and mares will go a mile under optional claiming conditions in Thursday’s $28,000 main event. Suzanne, the only member of the field who enters the race off a victory, is among the key contenders along with Missy Miner, Ashlee the Great, and Cuban Carmen.