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Belmont Park: Royal Delta heads to Breeders' Cup off powerful Beldame score
ELMONT, N.Y. - A few days after Royal Delta won the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs, Benjamin Leon spent $8.5 million to buy the filly at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
Part of it was as a future broodmare prospect. Part of it was for the kind of breathtaking performance Royal Delta is capable of giving, one that she gave winning Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame Invitational at Belmont Park.
Dragging Mike Smith past It’s Tricky with a half-mile remaining, Royal Delta galloped to a 9 1/2-length victory in the Beldame, likely sending her to Santa Anita as the favorite for next month’s $2 million Ladies’ Classic. The Beldame was a Win and You’re In for the Ladies Classic, though Royal Delta had already earned a spot by virtue of her Delaware Handicap victory in July.
Though her dominant effort Saturday might have some wondering if Leon would run Royal Delta against the males in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, he said that would be something he might consider next year as he intends to run her again as a 5-year-old.
“What we’re scheduled for is the Ladies’ Classic this year and as long as she’s healthy we intend to race her all of next year and then we can consider that at the end of next year,” Leon said.
Royal Delta, who won last year’s Ladies’ Classic after being beaten 8 1/2 lengths by Havre de Grace in this race last year, gave trainer Bill Mott his first victory in the Beldame.
And she did it in style.
Under Mike Smith, Royal Delta stalked It’s Tricky, who got loose on the lead after Cash for Clunkers hit the left side of the gate and was last.
Smith had Royal Delta just off It’s Tricky’s flank through a quarter in 24.09 seconds and a half-mile 46.09. Leaving the half-mile pole, Royal Delta took the lead and began to widen as she came to the quarter pole. In the stretch, it was just a matter of how far and the margin was 9 1/2 lengths while being geared down inside the sixteenth pole.
Royal Delta covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.80 and returned $3.70 to win.
“Halfway down the backside my mare really gathered herself,” Smith said. “She was moving at that point so much better than It’s Tricky; he was having to push her along to keep pace with me. Now she’s got me thinking I’m hoping I ain’t going too, too fast to set it up for someone behind me.”
Mott will now seek to win his fifth Ladies’ Classic and third straight (he won in 2010 with Unrivaled Belle). Typically, Mott has won that race after finishing second in the Beldame. He will have to try a new approach this year.
“It was awesome, it was really spectacular,” Mott said of Royal Delta’s performance. “I hope she can repeat that in the Breeders’ Cup.”
I watched all six of the graded stakes races at Belmont on a good and yielding track and the five grades stakes races at Santa Anita plus the 11th race which was a $70,000 ungraded stakes race. I was most impressed with the 5th race at Belmont, the 1 1/8 mile Beldame S. G1 on a good dirt track. He won that race by 9 ½ lengths. He won that race in the same time that Game On Dude won which both were at 1 1/8 miles in 1:48/4. This is going to be the distance that the Ladies Classic will be run. I was impressed with three year old Nonios beating Richard’s Kid and Rail Trip. Atigun was another three year old who showed in the Gold Cup at Belmont and Fast Falcon another three year old coming in fourth against older horses.. Love and Pride also showed winning the 8th race at Santa Anita in the Zenyatta at 1 1/16 mile that it was no fluke beating Royal Delta and It’s Tricky in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga. I also think that Stay Thirsty should run in the Classic since he placed at 1 ¼ mile before they put him to stud.
She looked great! Super effort is right! I'm really happy for her connections and I agree, Mike Smith gave her a great ride. Onward to the B.C.
Royal Delta could win the classic no doubt. Mott has alot of choices and plenty of ammunition in his barn. RD is no joke Smith shut her down at the finish line. She would of won by 13 lengths. As for comparing her to Zenyatta there is none. Its like comparing Micheal Jordan to Kareem. Both great warriors let each have the gold here.
Terrific effort by Royal Delta. Most likely my pick for a repeat in the Distaff, which she just made all the more interesting, though a part of me is curious how she'd fare in the Classic. It's Tricky, though second, ran rather poorly today, once Royal Delta challenged, that was it for her, she'd definitely fit in with the rest of the Distaff field, however I wouldn't be the least bit shocked if they run her in the FM Sprint instead.
She's still Royal! Congrats to RD, Mike Smith and the connections. This has been a great season for the ladies and should make an interesting BC!!
Her highness, Royal Delta, was regally back on her game today. A fabulous, compelling win, she won with aplomb. It's nice to see her racing at the top of her game again today. It's Tricky maybe still recovering a little from her last race, which was a tour de force in a heroic losing effort. She tried her hardest again today, but I don't think she was 100% on her game today. Congratulations to Royal Delta, Mike Smith (who gave Royal Delta an excellent ride today. Even the naysayers in the peanut gallery should not have any objections to his ride on RD this afternoon.), and Royal Delta's connections on an outstanding win. The Ladies' Classic is going to be one incredible race, the level of competition should be exciting and formidable. I can't wait to see that race, it may just be the Crown Jewel of the Breeders' Cup races during BC weekend. I love Royal Delta and I love Zenyatta. I have no clue why people feel the need to denegrate either horse because both of these mares are incredible champions. I celebrate both of them, and I am thankful I've been fortunate to see both of them in action, at the top of their game, thrilling us all with their prowess and skill. Thank you Zenyatta and Royal Delta!
What a fabulous run by Royal Delta. She made it look easy! Congratulations to Mr. Leon, Bill Mott and Mike Smith. Fingers crossed that everything goes according to plan and we get to see Royal Delta race as a five year old. Thank you to Mr. Leon for keeping this super racemare running.
Many are stating that she's back, unfortunately some dont know what its like to follow and appreciate a champion who is primed to win on the Largest stage while competing against legitimate competition. Royal Delta doesnt run against optional claimers with 1/15 lifetime records as Zenyatta did in 15 or 16 of her races, RD doesnt run consistently in 8.5f races with sprint like fractions as Zenyatta did on many occasion. Following champions who's connections are not hell bent on a horse facing as little as possible to protect an undefeated record have to be patient and recognize that these horses will run in certain races that will be considered as preps that build to bigger and better things. I am proud to be a fan of RD knowing that her reputation will be in tact when she retires due to competing at the highest level of the game during her career, and not touting the likes of horses that are still eligible to run in nw/2 race conditions.