10/29/2012 7:17PM

Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic: Royal Delta draws post 6 in speed-laden field

Barbara D. Livingston
Royal Delta will be the favorite in perhaps the strongest field ever assembled for the Ladies' Classic.

ARCADIA, Calif. – It might have been a bumpy ride, but Royal Delta escaped Hurricane Sandy and shipped Monday from the East Coast to Santa Anita, where on Friday she will lead an outstanding field of eight fillies and mares to post in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.

The $2 million, 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares was previously known as the Distaff. By any name, the 2012 edition is considered the strongest in the 29-year history of the race.

Three champions entered, including favorite Royal Delta, winner of the 2011 Ladies’ Classic. who drew post 6. She will face two unbeaten fillies – My Miss Aurelia, winner of the 2011 Juvenile Fillie, and Awesome Feather, winner of the 2010 Juvenile Fillies.

Seven of the eight entrants are Grade 1 winners, including Questing, Love and Pride, Grace Hall, and Include Me Out. The only entrant without a Grade 1 win is Class Included, the Northwest-based filly with 10 wins and six seconds from 16 starts.

When she arrived at Santa Anita on Monday, Royal Delta reportedly had an abrasion on her rear end that may have occurred during transit. Her trainer Bill Mott was scheduled to arrive later.

Grace Hall was expected to ship Tuesday or Wednesday from the East Coast, although her travel plans are at the mercy of Hurricane Sandy. Javier Castellano, who rode Grace Hall to Grade 2 victories this year in Delaware Oaks and Gulfstream Park Oaks, regains the mount.

While post position typically is not a key factor in mile and one-eighth races on the Santa Anita main track, the complexion of the 2012 Ladies’ Classic was affected by the draw. Several entrants have similar up-front running styles. The pace is expected to bet set by Questing, who drew post No. 4.

Although pace-presser My Miss Aurelia drew post No. 2, she is versatile enough to make her own trip. Two other front-runners drew closer to the outside – Awesome Feather drew post No. 5; Love and Pride drew post 8.

The field, in post position order with jockeys, lines up from the rail out: Grace Hall, Javier Castellano; My Miss Aurelia, Corey Nakatani; Class Included, Russell Baze; Questing, Irad Ortiz Jr.; Awesome Feather, Jeffrey Sanchez; Royal Delta, Mike Smith; Include Me Out, Joe Talamo; and Love and Pride, John Velazquez.