06/13/2013 3:09PM

Churchill Downs: Hard to look beyond Royal Delta in Fleur de Lis


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Horse races can be complicated affairs, whereby handicappers can envision a number of scenarios unfolding that could lead different outcomes.

But Saturday’s night’s Grade 2, $175,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap on the Stephen Foster undercard isn’t one of those races. Champion mare Royal Delta, winner of the past two Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classics, towers over four rivals, and anything other than a runaway victory is improbable.

Royal Delta is easily the most accomplished mare in the short field, as well as the fastest. She is trained by a Hall of Famer in Bill Mott, who notes she is training well for her first start since a 10th-place finish in the Dubai World Cup. And she is perfectly drawn on the far outside, leaving her well positioned to stay clear of traffic.

Even as the highweight at 125 pounds, spotting the field 10 to 11 pounds apiece under handicap conditions, if Royal Delta runs her race, she wins at 1-5 odds.

Mott said Thursday he attributes Royal Delta’s poor performance in Dubai to a deep track she disliked, and is pleased with how she is coming up to the race.

“She is working for me as well as she ever had,” he said.

She’s also proven over the Churchill Downs strip, having won the Ladies’ Classic when the race was run here in 2011, and last year’s Fleur de Lis, which like this year, came following a trip to Dubai.

Regular rider Mike Smith returns in the irons on Royal Delta, a 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker owned by Besilu Stables.

Wine Princess seems the most likely candidate to complete the exacta beneath Royal Delta, or register an upset if by some chance Royal Delta returns off her game. Last year’s Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks winner, Wine Princess is Churchill-based and 3 for 3 locally – a record that includes a seven-length score in a third-level allowance April 27.

“She gets a lot out of her training, so we’ve spaced her works out,” said trainer Steve Margolis. “She’s not one you have to put on the fence every six or seven days.”

Leading jockey Shaun Bridgmohan rides.

Completing the five-horse field are Funny Proposition, a second-level allowance winner at Churchill on May 17; Doubledogdare winner Ice Cream Silence, seventh in the Arlington Matron on May 25; and veteran She’s All In, who hasn’t raced since finishing sixth of seven in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn on April 12.


aaronrayk More than 1 year ago
Even though she hasn't raced since March, which was an off-the-board effort.
Courthouseguy1999 More than 1 year ago
I really hope Wine Princess runs to her pedigree and makes this a real horse race! Azeri was one of my all-time favorite champs, and Ghostzapper was brilliantly talented, if fragile, having made so few lifetime starts. Sad, if I remember correctly, that Wine Princess is the last of Azeri's foals to be foaled here before the Japanese bought Azeri and moved her to Japan. I hope her big brother Take Control makes it back to the races.
matthew_melton More than 1 year ago
that isn't it either.. funny proposition is a giant creature who love The Downs.
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
I agree. If Funny runs near her recent efforts, we'll have a hoss race!
B More than 1 year ago
If she loses this, she should be retired. If she is the horse that so many think she is, she really belongs in the Stephen Foster.
ChristinaW More than 1 year ago
If she wins this race or at least runs well, her connections should consider running her against males later in the season.
Tom Jackson More than 1 year ago
they did that in Dubai, twice.. chances are, if she's healthy you will see her in the BC Classic at year end as her final start.
bill More than 1 year ago
Why should she be rushed in to the Foster first race back from Dubai? There are plenty of races later this year, with more prestige then the Foster, for her to take on the boys if that's what the connections want.
B More than 1 year ago
I sorta agree, but I just wish there was something in the race to make it interesting. I just don't like races like the Fleur de Lis when a truly good horse has no competition. It's usually not very interesting and it proves nothing. That was the one thing I always had a problem with Zenyatta. So many races where she just towered over mediocre competition when we certainly knew she could handle just about anything.
Gary Smith More than 1 year ago
Anybody know why Brushed By a Star isn,t running this weekend ?she was nominated in 3 stakes Fleur de lis ,Vanity and Obeah,not running anywhere.Hope she,s ok.
DavidC More than 1 year ago
Hey, you fans out there stop worrying she'll win this one easy...watch what I say !
matthew_melton More than 1 year ago
nope. she has two up and comers to beat who both love the track, she has a shot of being upset