Updated on 05/23/2011 1:08PM

Black-Eyed Susan: Fast pace sets up Royal Delta

Barbara D. Livingston
Royal Delta, with Jose Lezcano up, wins the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths at Pimlico.

BALTIMORE – No telling whether her effort would have been good enough for her to be competitive two weeks beforehand in the Kentucky Oaks, but a clear-cut victory in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes was satisfaction enough Friday at Pimlico for the connections of Royal Delta.

After Royal Delta posted a flashy allowance victory April 15 at Keeneland, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott mulled over the possibility of running the Empire Maker filly back in the Grade 1, $1 million Kentucky Oaks on May 6 at Churchill Downs. But employing his customary discretion, Mott waited for the Grade 2, $250,000 Black Eyed Susan, and it paid off with an emphatic, 2 1/2-length score in the traditional Preakness eve fixture.

“We thought she was a nice filly early on, but soon realized she was a little better than we thought,” Mott said.

With Jose Lezcano settling her into a nice early stalking position after three other 3-year-old fillies went out for the lead, Royal Delta moved through a rail opening in the final turn of the 1 1/8-mile race, then easily wrested command from a weary Hot Summer before moving along to a 2 1/2-length triumph over Buster’s Ready.

“Today we got pace,” Lezcano said. “With the pace up front, when I asked her, she gave me the run I needed to go.”

Hot Summer was third, another 5 1/4 lengths back, followed by Love Theway Youare and the 9-5 second choice, Wyomia. Coax Liberty was scratched, leaving a field of five.

Royal Delta, bred and owned by the Palisades Investment NV Inc., returned $5.60 as a slight favorite after finishing in 1:49.60 over a fast track.

The Black-Eyed Susan marked just the fourth career start for Royal Delta, who after a 12-length maiden romp at Belmont last fall returned with a resounding defeat in a Tampa stakes before her three-length allowance win last month at Keeneland.

“She just keeps improving,” Mott said. “Her second race was a little bit of a dud in Tampa, but she’s becoming a little more professional.”

Mott said the Grade 1 Mother Goose, a 1 1/16-mile race on June 25 at his home base, Belmont Park, is the next likely race for Royal Delta.