09/09/2013 12:33PM

Breeders' Cup Distaff: Royal Delta could go for three-peat

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Barbara D. Livingston
Royal Delta, winning the Personal Ensign, runs next in the Grade 1 Beldame at Belmont Park on Sept. 28, then in either the Breeders' Cup Distaff or Classic.

Royal Delta will be strongly favored when she seeks an unprecedented three-peat in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, though trainer Bill Mott and owner Benjamin Leon have not closed the door on the BC Classic.

“That has not been decided,” Mott said Monday. “It’s more logical to keep her in the filly race for now.”

The Breeders' Cup will be run at Santa Anita on Nov. 1-2.

Royal Delta, who dominated her last two races, returns Sept. 28 in the Grade 1 Beldame at Belmont Park. Authenticity and Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar, whose BC status is unconfirmed, also are possible Beldame starters.

Meanwhile, a deep field of Distaff candidates is taking shape for the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes on Sept. 28 at Santa Anita. The prospective lineup includes Midwest-based Joyful Victory, Kentucky Oaks runner-up Beholder, Include Me Out, and More Chocolate.

Trainer Larry Jones confirmed Joyful Victory will run in the Zenyatta, a race in which she finished second last year before skipping the Breeders’ Cup. Jones expects Joyful Victory to continue her campaign this year in the Breeders’ Cup. Joyful Victory won the Grade 1 Santa Margarita by four lengths in March at Santa Anita.

Include Me Out will try to rebound in the Zenyatta after she bombed in the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch on Aug. 3 at Del Mar. She finished eighth as the favorite.

“I don’t know what went wrong,” trainer Ron Ellis said. “I haven’t found anything physically wrong. She’s won Grade 1's on synthetic but her best races have been on dirt. We’ll be looking for a bounce-back race.”

Beholder won her comeback Sept. 1 at Del Mar. Trainer Richard Mandella said she will face older for the first time in the Zenyatta.

The Grade 1 Cotillion for 3-year-old fillies Sept. 21 at Parx could produce Distaff contenders. Sweet Lulu, 4-for-4 winner of the Grade 1 Test, will ship from California. Close Hatches also will start in the Cotillion, her first start since she romped June 22 in the Mother Goose. Alabama Stakes runner-up Fiftyshadesofhay is a Cotillion maybe.

Breeders’ Cup plans for those 3-year-old fillies will be made after the Cotillion, although Sweet Lulu’s trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, said, “I don’t think people are real eager to run against Royal Delta.”

Sweet Lulu will be considered for the BC Filly and Mare Sprint.

Lady of Fifty, upset winner of the Hirsch, a BC Challenge race, is not likely to make the Breeders’ Cup after a recent setback.

“I had to slow down her a little bit,” Hollendorfer said. “I can’t say for sure if she’ll make the Breeders’ Cup. It is nothing serious.”