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The following post was published earlier this week at Paulick Report.

The value and success of the Delta Jackpot at Louisiana’s Delta Downs shows, without any qualifying comments, that increased purses bring increased competition and better horses.

Just a few years ago, racing at Delta Downs was synonymous with “cheap” racing. There was a massive stigma against horses racing there because they ran for small purses and were considered small time.

That has changed big time.

The reason for the change is simple. Louisiana, with the support of the state’s Thoroughbred breeders and other interested groups, approved the legalization of racetrack slots and riverboat casinos a few years ago. With the advent of expanded gaming, a small slice of that revenue to the state was dedicated by law to the improvement of purses and breeders’ incentives in Louisiana.

The slots revolution has grown purses in Louisiana, and, as a direct result, there are more farms working with Thoroughbreds, more jobs related to horses and racing, more income to the state and parishes, and more horses being bred and trained in the state.

In fact, Louisiana is now in direct competition with Florida as the second-largest producer of Thoroughbreds in the country.

Not coincidentally, the winner of this year’s Delta Jackpot was a Florida-bred colt named Gourmet Dinner. A bay son of the End Sweep stallion Trippi and the Pentelicus mare Potluck Dinner, Gourmet Dinner was bred by Ocala Stud and Bill Terrill. They sold the nicely balanced bay at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s April auction of 2-year-olds in training for $40,000.

Now a winner of four races from five starts for Our Sugar Bear Stable, Gourmet Dinner has earned $809,660. Not bad for an “average colt.”

That is how the bay son of the South African-export Trippi appeared when he went through the under-tack show at OBS in April. Jay Kilgore, BreezeFigs guru for DataTrack International, evaluated the colt at the time for stride length and speed in his work over the synthetic course at OBS. Kilgore said, “Gourmet Dinner was a nice colt who hit all the benchmarks for a competitive athlete according to our system of evaluation. But to be honest, there were another 100 who did just as well.”

At the sale, Gourmet Dinner worked a quarter-mile in :23.1 as Hip 277 in a sale with 1,221 lots cataloged.

Kilgore said, “He had a stride length of 23.7 feet, which was average, and among colts working a quarter, the par time was a 60. He scored a 61 and was a Group 1, our highest group ranking that indicates he met or exceeded par on all of our benchmark tests.”

The average colt went into training and never missed a beat. Gourmet Dinner won his first three starts, then was second in the longer In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Stakes series. That was probably one of the reasons Gourmet Dinner was discounted at odds of 20-1 for the Delta Jackpot.

A useful colt who stayed on well through the stretch, Gourmet Dinner is a half-brother to stakes winner Gaston A. (Concorde’s Tune) and to stakes-placed I’mroyallymecke’d (Mecke). They are out of the Pentelicus mare Potluck Dinner, who was unplaced in her only start. Following up on her stakes-winning 2-year-old, the 14-year-old mare has an unnamed yearling colt by Sweetsouthernsaint.

The pedigree of Gourmet Dinner descends from Ocala Stud lines on the top and bottom of his pedigree. Both the colt’s sire and broodmare sire stood there. Ocala Stud bred his dam, Potluck Dinner has been mated only with stallions from the farm, and J.M. O’Farrell and Ed Weist bred Potluck Dinner’s dam, the Who’s for Dinner mare Romantic Dinner, who was also an important producer for Ocala Stud.

Potluck Dinner is a half-sister to two stakes winners, including Lady Gin (Saint Ballado), who is the dam of this year’s Oak Leaf Stakes winner Rigoletta (Concerto).

** For the sake of transparency, please note that I am a consultant with DataTrack International, evaluating conformation and physique.

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