10/28/2013 8:01PM

Breeders’ Cup Distaff: Royal Delta, Beholder to start side by side

Barbara D. Livingston
Beholder will start from post 5 in a field of six in Friday's Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Royal Delta will start the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff from directly inside pace rival Beholder, a draw that is likely to dictate a front-running strategy for the two-time Distaff winner.

Royal Delta starts from post 4 and Beholder from post 5 in a six-horse field that includes four Grade 1 winners. While the tempo of the race will be determined by the front-runners, Princess of Sylmar could tuck into a perfect trip from post 6.

The field includes outsider Street Girl, post 1; Authenticity, post 2; and Close Hatches, the only filly this year to defeat Princess of Sylmar, from post 3.

Royal Delta is skilled at racing on the front. She won the 2012 Distaff at Santa Anita in gate-to-wire fashion, and in the past year has set or pressed the pace in most of her starts. Royal Delta, who will be ridden by Mike Smith, is the 9-5 favorite on the Daily Racing Form line.

Beholder also has speed, and trainer Richard Mandella breathed a sigh of relief at the post position draw held Monday at Santa Anita. With two names remaining to be drawn, posts 1 and 5 were the only spots remaining. Beholder landed post 5.

[BREEDERS’ CUP 2013: Fields with DRF odds and comments]

“I like it,” Mandella said. “My filly’s pretty aggressive, and if she’s inside and breaks a little slow, she could be compromised. On the outside, if she breaks slow or fast . . . he can play it by ear.”

The “he” is Gary Stevens, who rode Beholder to front-running victories in her two most recent starts. Beholder, unbeaten in four route races at Santa Anita, is the 3-1 third choice on the DRF line.

Princess of Sylmar, whose owner, Ed Stanco, put up $100,000 to make her Breeders’ Cup eligible, is the 5-2 second choice by DRF. Although six wins this year were accomplished in come-from-behind fashion, Princess of Sylmar is tactical enough to be forwardly placed under jockey Javier Castellano. They figure to be racing in third or fourth positon, while in the clear.

East Coast-based Royal Delta, Princess of Sylmar, and Close Hatches were scheduled to arrive in California late Monday. Street Girl arrived Sunday. Beholder is based in California; Authenticity has been in California for a month.

The Distaff has been run twice previously with six-horse fields – Sacahuista won in 1987 at Hollywood Park; Jewel Princess won in 1996 at Woodbine.

Breeders' Cup Distaff
Purse: $2 million; 1 1/8 miles; Grade 1
PP, Horse, Jockey, morning-line odds
1. Street Girl (A. Castillo), 30-1
2. Authenticity (J. Velazquez), 8-1
3. Close Hatches (J. Rosario), 6-1
4. Royal Delta (M. Smith), 8-5
5. Beholder (G. Stevens), 5-2
6. Princess of Sylmar (J. Castellano), 9-5
Post time: Friday, 7:35 p.m. Eastern