11/05/2011 9:59AM

Breeders' Cup: Royal Delta's Ladies' Classic win could lead to auction fireworks

Email
Kim Pratt
Ladies'Classic winner Royal Delta is scheduled to sell Tuesday at Keeneland. Bill Mott would like to see one of his owners buy her so he can continue to be her trainer.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The victory by Royal Delta in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic on Friday night at Churchill Downs assuredly clinched the Eclipse Award for her as champion 3-year-old filly, and likely increased the auction price she will fetch on Tuesday at Keeneland, when she will be sold as part of the dispersal of the estate of her owner, the late Prince Saud bin Khaled of Saudi Arabia.

Royal Delta provided her trainer, Bill Mott, with his fourth win in the Ladies’ Classic. And though there is plenty of uncertainty over where Royal Delta is headed next, Mott believes she is improving and will be even better at age 4. So, he is hoping she heads back to his barn after the sale.

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

Royal Delta, by Empire Maker, is a homebred for Prince Saud, who raced as Palides Investments. He died in January.

Royal Delta won for the fifth time in eight starts, and scored her fourth win in seven starts in 2011. Most notably, in the Ladies’ Classic she conquered her two main rivals for the 3-year-old filly title, It’s Tricky, who finished second, and Plum Pretty, who wound up fifth after setting the early pace.

“She was second best,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, the trainer of It’s Tricky. “Congratulations to the winner. We didn’t have any excuse.”

Bob Baffert, the trainer of Plum Pretty, was upset that jockey Rafael Bejarano tried to slow down the pace.

“When you slow her down like that, it’s no good,” Baffert said. “She’s gotta go.”

Another potential contender for the title, Turbulent Descent, finished fifth after a rough trip in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint.

Royal Delta was touting herself all week with a spectacular workout and subsequent strong gallops.

“She ran up to the way she’s been training,” Mott said.

Mott resisted any temptation to push Royal Delta to make the Kentucky Oaks in the spring. He brought her along carefully, and she continued to progress throughout the year. After beating a moderate field in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico in May, she was third in the Coaching Club American Oaks, scored an eye-catching victory in the Alabama Stakes, and was a good second to Havre de Grace in the Beldame.

“She’s a big, strong, sound filly,” Mott said. “There should be some good things to come. Whoever gets her would probably look forward to having a nice year with her next year if they decide to race her again. I’d say at this point there would be no reason not to do that.

“I’d be happy enough to be her trainer if somebody wants that to happen.”

Mott’s previous wins in the Ladies’ Classic, once known as the Distaff, came with Ajina, Escena, and, last year, with Unrivaled Belle. Both Ajina and Unrivaled Belle, like Royal Delta, ran second in the Beldame in their final prep for the Breeders’ Cup. Mott’s four wins in this race tie him for the lead with D. Wayne Lukas, another Hall of Famer.

A crowd of 40,677 attended the Friday card at Churchill Downs, and they saw six Breeders’ Cup races that had a good mix of the expected and the unexpected.

My Miss Aurelia secured the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old filly by capturing the BC Juvenile Fillies for her fourth straight win. She is expected to get the rest of the year off, and will head to California for the winter, trainer Steve Asmussen said.

My Miss Aurelia was favored to win, as was Secret Circle, who captured the inaugural BC Juvenile Sprint to remain unbeaten in three starts.

Stephanie’s Kitten rallied to take the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf as the third choice in a field of 14.

It was bombs away in the other two races. Musical Romance was a 20-1 upset winner of the BC Filly and Mare Sprint, a result that puts her into the mix for an Eclipse Award for that division along with the likes of Hilda’s Passion, Sassy Image, and Turbulent Descent.

Perfect Shirl rallied for a 27-1 surprise in the BC Filly and Mare Turf, in which favored Stacelita finished 10th of 11. That result left unsettled the Eclipse Award in the division.

-- additional reporting by Byron King