01/05/2012 3:00PM

2011 Eclipse Awards: Royal Delta


Debra A. Roma

Her year began as poorly as it ended brilliantly. Royal Delta was not even a blip on the 3-year-old filly radar until her Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott, started talking about the Kentucky Oaks after she won a first-level allowance race at Keeneland in April. By the time the year was over – after she had looked sensational in capturing the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs – everyone could plainly see what a truly great performer she was.

Royal Delta started her season by finishing ninth of 10 in a $50,000 stakes race at Tampa Bay Downs in March. Things started looking up with that three-length allowance triumph at Keeneland, and although Mott ultimately took a pass on the Kentucky Oaks, it wasn’t long before she was mixing it up with the elite of the division. A loping 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes impressed the Preakness eve crowd at Pimlico, and after finishing third in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga, it was time for Royal Delta to serve notice that she was a major player.

[MORE: Complete list of 2011 Eclipse Awards finalists | Vote for Horse of the Year and win]

Ridden by Jose Lezcano, who was aboard her for every 2011 race except for the first one at Tampa, Royal Delta crushed the opposition in the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga, winning by 5 1/2 lengths after lurking just off the early pace. The Alabama, run at 1 1/4 miles, was a harbinger of the Breeders’ Cup: when Royal Delta fired her best shot, no other filly could match her down the stretch.

“When she went past them, it’s like they shot her out of a slingshot,” Mott said following the Alabama.

After finishing second against 4-year-old Havre de Grace following a somewhat troubled trip in the Grade 1 Beldame, Royal Delta was sent to Churchill Downs for the Ladies’ Classic. Her training moves caught many an eye, and when she entered the gate against eight others, she was the 2-1 favorite. She did not disappoint. Forwardly placed throughout, Royal Delta began edging closer in the final turn, and down the lane it was no contest. She began churning in piston-like fashion to win going away, giving Mott his fourth career victory in the race.

“Once she got to them, it was adios, see you later,” said Mott. Royal Delta was bred and owned by Palides Investments N.V., whose proprietor, Prince Saud bin Khaled, died in February.

Just four days after her Breeders’ Cup triumph, Royal Delta was sent through the Keeneland ring, going for a sales-topping $8.5 million to the Besilu Stables of Benjamin Leon. The price topped the sale and was the third-highest ever for a racemare or broodmare prospect at the Keeneland November auction. Less than a month later, Royal Delta was back in the Mott fold at Payson Park in south Florida and now is being geared up for a possible run in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in March.

Royal Delta, bred in Kentucky, is by Empire Maker out of Delta Princess, by A.P. Indy. She won 4 of 7 starts for earnings of $1,657,400 in 2011. Mott was the trainer of one previous 3-year-old filly champion, Ajina in 1997.


Date Track Race Finish Chart Distance Time Beyers Video
11/4/11 CD Breeders Cup Ladies' Classic 1st 1 1/8 mile 1:50.78 104 Video
10/01/11 BEL Beldame 2nd 1 1/8 mile 1:49.39 91 Video
8/20/11 SAR Alabama 1st 1 1/4 mile 2:03.00 97 Video
7/23/11 SAR CCA Oaks 3rd 1 1/8 mile 1:49.00 85 Video
5/11/11 PIM Black Eye Susan 1st 1 1/8 mile 1:49.60 100 Video

Royal Delta

Breeder: Palides Investments N.V., Inc. 
Trainer: William I. Mott
Owner: Palides Investments N.V., Inc.
Record: 6-4-0-1
Best Beyer: 100