09/26/2013 4:30PM

Belmont Park: Royal Delta has speed edge over Princess of Sylmar in Beldame

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ELMONT, N.Y. – On paper, it appears to be a sexy matchup. The 5-year-old mare Royal Delta, a two-time Eclipse Award winner, versus Princess of Sylmar, the leader of the 3-year-old filly division, in Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame Invitational at Belmont Park.

But given how Belmont’s main track is tending to favor front-running horses, it seems like it will take a Herculean effort from Princess of Sylmar – winner of the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, and Alabama – to catch two-time Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Royal Delta in the 1 1/8-mile Beldame.

Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Princess of Sylmar, understands what his filly is up against, but said he will instruct jockey Javier Castellano not to alter Princess of Sylmar’s running style, noting how that worked against her when she finished second to Close Hatches in the Grade 2 Gazelle, her only loss this year.

“That’s going to be really important that Javier understand that and not take her out of her own style,” Pletcher said. “What we got to hope is the last eighth of a mile, last sixteenth of a mile is that Royal Delta comes back to us a little bit.

“Obviously, we can be helped by someone showing some initiative early, but if they don’t do it we’ll let our filly run our race and hope for the best.”

Six horses were entered in the Beldame, a Win and You’re In race for the $2 million Distaff, to be run Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. Lady Cohiba, one of two potential early-speed types, could scratch, trainer Christophe Clement said. That would leave Roman Invader as potentially the other horse to put pressure on Royal Delta.

[BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Win and You’re In schedule and results]

Roman Invader, who will break from the rail under Junior Alvarado, does not appear to be as fast as On Fire Baby, who outfooted Royal Delta early in last month’s Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga, a race Royal Delta won by 4 1/2 lengths.

Trainer Bill Mott said his instructions to jockey Mike Smith will be just let Royal Delta get away from the gate the way she naturally does, which means she’ll most likely be in front.

“Don’t take it away from her I guess is the best way to put it,” Mott said.

Still, Mott said he isn’t taking anything for granted. Twice in her career, Royal Delta has been beaten as an odds-on favorite, including three starts back in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs where she was 1-5.

“I have a lot of respect for everyone else in there,” Mott said. “There’s no such thing as a slam dunk; I’m not taking it for granted. I think she’s doing well. I think she’s as good as she’s been, but they’ve got to run the race.”

While Royal Delta is likely headed back for a chance to three-peat in the Distaff, Princess of Sylmar is unlikely to go on to that race, her connections have said. She is not nominated and it would cost $100,000 to supplement.

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Centring, third to Royal Delta in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, is adding blinkers for this race. And Why Not, third to Royal Delta in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap in July, completes the field of expected starters.

The Beldame will go as race 5 on the 11-race program.

Mark More than 1 year ago
Congrats POS and her connections ! And Todd Pletcher! 1 Eclipse award in the bag !
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Oh no she doesnt.
tim blake More than 1 year ago
you gotta love mike smith. he is not ashamed to tank on favorites on national tv over and over and over. is maybe the best betting angle going. good for my wallet. but sad for horse racing.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
100k Show bet on royal delta, Anybody??? Craziest bet in gambling
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
2-5 tops, maybe 1-5.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Royal Delta Wins, gut feeling Princess does no run that well today, third or less.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Howd that work out for ya?
Milton Malla More than 1 year ago
There is no discarding the abilities of the top two runners, but... I think the result will be a BIG surprise. My bet will be ROMAN INVADER. They might just underestimate what this old mare can do. I think she is in the best shape of her life. Jacobson is a shrewd owner/trainer and if she is not up to this test, she would not be here.
redboy More than 1 year ago
Its Royal Deltas to lose.and the Pletcher entry will be coming late just not enough track to catch the Best mare in the country.Should be a great race .
B More than 1 year ago
These people cannot afford $100,000?! I'd like to see RD run in the Classic and Close Hatches face Sylmar in the Distaff.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Hope for Mike Smith sake that wont happen, what would he do, Palace Malice maybe a chance to get mount back on dude. Tough call
B More than 1 year ago
Good question. Probably won't happen, but my guess is he is more loyal to RD than Dude. He's already given him up once. I haven't a clue if Baffert is even considering him after how powerfully he ran under Garcia and Baffert might be a bit miffed by him jumping ship. My two favorite horses this year are Dude and Orb and they both seem to have endless jockey issues, particularly Orb.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
I like castellano today, I don't think he blew it with Normandy invasion, what the hell was he suppose to do wait for Orb. Castellano wins he should keep mount, rosario will be a wild card in breeders cup. Dangerous
Dee Englehart More than 1 year ago
There are some good horses in this field but I think everything favors Royal Delta. She has looked better with each race and it's going to take a lot to beat her. With each race this year, she has looked stronger and as long as she gets a clean break and gets the lead, the race is hers.