08/16/2012 3:37PM

Monmouth Park: Gourmet Dinner faces tougher test in Iselin

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Gourmet Dinner (left), with Javier Castellano riding, wins the Majestic Light Stakes.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - The element of surprise is gone for Gourmet Dinner, the winner of the Majestic Light Stakes at 7-1 on the Haskell undercard.

He returns to Monmouth Park on Saturday to find some familiar faces and fresh challengers in the Grade 3, $150,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes.

Ponzi Scheme and Small Town Talk, second and third in the Majestic Light, are back for a rematch in the 1 1/8-mile Iselin. This field is much deeper with the addition of Toby’s Corner, the 2011 Wood Memorial winner; San Pablo for Todd Pletcher, who leads all trainers with seven stakes victories at the meet; Eldaafer, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner; and Self Control, fresh from a sharp allowance score at Belmont Park.

Toby’s Corner and San Pablo figure to vie for the role of Iselin favorite.

Toby’s Corner, like Gourmet Dinner, missed last year’s Triple Crown. He sustained a hind leg injury following his upset of Uncle Mo in the Wood and never made the trip to Churchill Downs.

Toby’s Corner returned in February for trainer Graham Motion, finishing third in the Grade 2 General George at Laurel. He needed four more starts to get the first win of the comeback, a handy score in the Mountainview Handicap at Penn National.

San Pablo, an overnight stakes winner at Saratoga earlier this month, makes his third start at Monmouth. He won a first-level allowance here last fall and earlier this meet ran fourth as the 7-5 favorite in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup.

Gourmet Dinner, the Delta Jackpot winner, was sidelined with a shin injury after running second in the 2011 Fountain of Youth. He returned almost a year later in a new barn, switching from Steve Standridge to Bruce Brown, the son-in-law of owner-breeder Bill Terrill.

It took him six comeback tries to finally get his first win since the Delta Jackpot.

Switching back to dirt after three turf races, Gourmet Dinner rallied from sixth to beat Ponzi Scheme by a neck in the Majestic Light at 1 1/16 miles.

“He came out of that last race super,” Brown said. “He’s really coming into it good. This race is definitely a tougher test. It’s a family horse, so it was good to see him win. It’s always good to see class horse who has had issues come back and show they still have it.”