09/23/2013 11:23AM

Breeders' Cup Distaff: Beldame, Zenyatta critical preps

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Barbara D. Livingston
Princess of Sylmar (above), who has virtually clinched the 3-year-old filly championship, meets Royal Delta in the Beldame at Belmont Park on Saturday.

Grade 1 races Saturday at Belmont Park and Santa Anita will define a Breeders’ Cup Distaff field currently led by the reigning division queen. The $2 million Distaff will be held Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.

The Beldame Stakes at Belmont will include Royal Delta, two-time Distaff winner. She faces 3-year-old filly Princess of Sylmar. Plans call for Royal Delta to stay in her division and seek her third Distaff win, though the BC Classic has not been ruled out.

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

Princess of Sylmar, meanwhile, is unlikely to run in the Distaff. She will face older for the first time Saturday. Princess of Sylmar won the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, and Alabama, virtually clinching the Eclipse for champion 3-year-old filly. She will remain on the Distaff list until after the Beldame.

Authenticity will run Saturday in either the Beldame or Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita. Neither spot is easy.

The Zenyatta will bring together a deep field including Joyful Victory, Beholder, Include Me Out and More Chocolate.

Both the Beldame and Zenyatta are Win and You're In events for the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Plans are developing for Close Hatches, winner of the Grade 1 Cotillion on Saturday at Parx Racing, as well as Cotillion runner-up Sweet Lulu.