Updated on 11/05/2011 1:36AM

Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic: Royal Delta pours it on late


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Royal Delta staked her claim to the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly by outrunning fellow fillies It’s Tricky and Plum Pretty, plus six older rivals, when capturing the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic under the lights on Friday night at Churchill Downs.

The Ladies’ Classic was the last of six Breeders’ Cup races to be run on Friday. There are nine more Saturday, highlighted by the richest of the 15 races, the $5 million Classic.

The win was the fourth in the Ladies’ Classic – once known as the Distaff -- for trainer Bill Mott, the winningest trainer of all-time at Churchill Downs. But, as with his win last year with Unrivaled Belle, this one was bittersweet.

Last year’s victory was largely overshadowed by the controversy of whether Life At Ten should have run in the race. As a result, Unrivaled Belle never got her due.

This year’s win was poignant in that it came for Palides Investments, the stable name of Prince Saud bin Khaled of Saudi Arabia, who died earlier this year and whose equine holdings will be dispersed in the coming days.

“I hope one of my clients buys her,” Mott said.

Royal Delta ($6.40), favored off her strong recent races and an outstanding week of training here, rolled past pacesetter Plum Pretty at midstretch and then quickly went past It’s Tricky before going on to win by 2 1/2 lengths. It’s Tricky held on for second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Pachattack.

Ultra Blend was fourth and was followed, in order, by Plum Pretty, Ask the Moon, Super Espresso, Satans Quick Chick, and Miss Match. Medaglia d’Amour was scratched from the race on Thursday.

Royal Delta, with jockey Jose Lezcano aboard, completed 1 1/8 miles on a main track rated good in 1:50.78.

The track was rated muddy for training in the morning after three-quarters of an inch of rain, according to track superintendent Butch Lehr, fell from a storm that began Thursday and lasted into Friday morning. Although it was chilly, with highs in the low 60s during the day, a brisk wind contributed to the track being upgraded to good by the fourth race, the day’s first Breeders’ Cup race, but there was considerable moisture in the surface throughout the card.

“We’ve been here almost a month and she’s trained over some wet, sealed tracks and she seems to get over it well,” Mott said. “I wasn’t real worried about the track condition.”

Royal Delta was fourth during the early going as Plum Pretty set fractions of 24.18 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 49 seconds for a half-mile.

“It was a testament to the filly’s ability to close into that pace,” Mott said. “You’ve got to give the filly a lot of credit. And you’ve got to give Jose a lot of credit. She’s got a nice cruising speed, and when you ask her for more, she gives it to you.”

The win was the fifth in eight starts for Royal Delta, a daughter of Empire Maker who also was bred by Palides. Earlier this year, she won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and Alabama Stakes. In her final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, she finished second in the Beldame Stakes to Havre de Grace, who bypassed the Ladies’ Classic in order to face males on Saturday in the Classic.


Ladies' Classic

# Horse Jockey Win Place Show
ROYAL DELTA Lezcano J $6.40 $4.00 $3.20
IT'S TRICKY Dominguez R   $5.00 $3.80
PACHATTACK Maragh R     $6.00
Winning Trainer: B. Mott – Owner: Palides Investments
$2 Exacta (6-3) Paid $32.00
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