Updated on 11/23/2013 11:00AM

Champion Royal Delta retired, will be bred to Galileo

Barbara D. Livingston
Champion Royal Delta, two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff, has been retired from racing.

Royal Delta, a 10-time graded stakes winner and two-time Eclipse Award champion, has been retired from racing, her connections announced Wednesday.

Later Wednesday, owner Benjamin Leon announced in a press release that Royal Delta would be bred to the European champion Galileo, who stands at Coolmore Stud in Ireland.

Royal Delta will soon begin a period of quarantine at Leon’s Besilu Farms in Ocala, Fla. She was shipped there on Tuesday from Payson Park, where she had been based since her fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Royal Delta, a 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker out of the multiple Grade 3-winning A.P. Indy mare Delta Princess, retires with a record of 12 wins, 5 seconds, and 1 third from 22 starts and career earnings of $4,811,126. She won six Grade 1 races. Two of her Grade 1 wins came in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (since renamed the Distaff).

Royal Delta began her career owned by her breeder, Saud bin Khaled, who died in 2011. Following Royal Delta’s victory in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, she was purchased for $8.5 million at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale by Leon, who, under the moniker Besilu Stables, campaigned her for two seasons, which included two failed attempts in the Dubai World Cup.

At 3, Royal Delta won the Alabama, Black-Eyed Susan, and Ladies’ Classic and was named champion 3-year-old filly. At 4, Royal Delta won the Fleur de Lis, Delaware Handicap, Beldame, and Ladies’ Classic and was named champion older female.

This year, Royal Delta won the Sabin, the Delaware Handicap, and the Personal Ensign to put herself in contention for the Eclipse Award as champion older female. She ended her career with a runner-up finish to Princess of Sylmar in the Beldame and a fourth-place finish to Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Bill Mott trained Royal Delta through her entire career and expressed mixed emotions about her retirement Wednesday.

“It’s one of those things where it was Mr. Leon’s decision,” Mott said Wednesday by phone from Payson Park. “The only thing I could offer was I never retired a horse that looked as good as she does. You could probably lead her over there tomorrow.”

Mott had nominated Royal Delta to the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 30, which is coming up a spectacular race with potentially eight Grade 1 winners, including two-time Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Groupie Doll taking on males.

Leon, in the press release, said it “was a tough decision” to retire Royal Delta, but added he felt it’s “what’s in her best interest.”

“I’ve had many great moments in my life but the joy and pleasure that Royal Delta has brought to me and my family is indescribable,” Leon said. “She offered us the opportunity to enjoy wonderful places, people and experiences. She was a gift that allowed us many thrilling moments and we will be forever grateful.”

Reflecting on Royal Delta’s career, Mott said: “She’s had three championship seasons. She’s a two-time Breeders’ Cup winner, a two-time Eclipse Award winner with a possibility of another one coming her way. Physically, she looks like running as a 6-year-old would not be a problem for her. But everybody thinks she’s done enough.”


Jordan More than 1 year ago
As Mott said, she had 3 championship seasons. So, she's definitely done enough. The fact that the champion 3 year old filly of 2011 was campaigned in 2012 and 2013 was just the type of sportsmanship the racing game needs more of. A likely 3-time champion, Royal Delta will most likely be voted into the Hall of Fame. And she deserves it. Although not a great horse, Royal Delta was very, very good for a considerable time, and those two Distaff victories puts her up alongside the great Bayakoa as the only two to win that race more than once(although Zenyatta accomplished a greater feat going Distaff-Classic).
Carolyn Barg More than 1 year ago
I thought she'd be retired after the Distaff, no matter how she fared. She's so earned her retirement. She was ready. Horses tend to give signals when they're ready to step out of the ring. God Bless You, RD. You were so great to watch. I never saw you in person. I only wish I had. Enjoy your retirement and being a mom.
Wesley Wright More than 1 year ago
I agree with the decision. RD has not been herself this year. Hope to see many of her offsprings on the racetrack. Farewell RD.
LauraB More than 1 year ago
I'm kind of torn both ways, would have loved to see her run as a 6yr. old but she's done everything asked of her, what more could a fan want? She deserves a great retirement, can't wait to see her foals.
Rosemarie Cola More than 1 year ago
wonderful mare, got to see her run and it was a joy. Best of luck big girl, enjoy your retirement.
Forego137 More than 1 year ago
No question she provided us alot of thrills and she will bd missed. The only down side is most likely her offspring will not duplicate her talent or class which most of the time that is the case. Enjoy your much deserved retirement
B More than 1 year ago
Right on that. There are some exceptions, but outstanding racing mares rarely re-produce themselves.
Judy Maass Gadwood More than 1 year ago
Praying you stay happy and healthy. I cannot wait to see your "babies". They are going to be gorgeous I'm sure :-) Love, Auntie Judy
Jo Ann Simon More than 1 year ago
Sorry to see her go but maybe in losing her last two races, she was telling us she was ready to move on. May she have a happy life.
Gae Seal More than 1 year ago
Just like her great ancestor, NOOR. May she have an equally long and happy retirement!
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
A great Horse and will be sorely missed, I saw her run at Delaware Park this year. Her last race was a classic passing of the torch to the new stars