07/17/2013 4:03PM

Delaware Handicap: Royal Delta seeks repeat vs. five challengers

Barbara D. Livingston
Royal Delta is the 123-pound highweight and defending champion in the 1 1/4-mile Delaware Handicap.

Defending champion Royal Delta was assigned post 3 among a field of six fillies and mares entered to run Saturday in the Grade 1, $750,000 Delaware Handicap, the annual showcase event at Delaware Park.

Royal Delta, with Mike Smith to ride, will carry high weight of 123 pounds as a solid favorite in the 1 1/4-mile race when she tries to rebound off a disappointing comeback in the June 15 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs, where she finished a distant second.

This will be the 76th running of what is known as the Del Cap. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern, with the Del Cap, the ninth of 11 races, set for 5:20.

From the rail, this is the field: She’s All In, 112 pounds, Victor Carrasco; Summer Applause, 118, Alex Cintron; Royal Delta, 123, Smith; Authenticity, 118, no rider; And Why Not, 112, Joshua Navarro; and Centring, 115, Irad Ortiz Jr.

Authenticity and Summer Applause both have been cross-entered in the Grade 3 Shuvee at Saratoga on Saturday, with their respective connections saying they wanted to take a look at both races before committing.

Last year, Royal Delta was all-out to win the Del Cap by a neck over Tiz Miz Sue, who is skipping the race this year to await the Aug. 25 Personal Ensign at Saratoga. Tiz Miz Sue won the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park in her last start.

Todd Pletcher, trainer of Authenticity, said: “It makes it more attractive that Tiz Miz Sue’s not in there. She’s a tough mare, she likes Delaware. It certainly appears there’s one horse to beat,” that being Royal Delta.

One of the longer shots is sure to be And Why Not, most recently second in the June  15 Obeah Stakes at Delaware. The distance is a major factor that enticed trainer Michael Matz.

“There’s not too many horses that go around and can run a mile and a quarter,” Matz said Tuesday on the NTRA teleconference. “And one thing I know, this horse can run a mile and a quarter. She had a real nice race over the track the last time.”

Also carded for Saturday is the $100,000 Sweet and Sassy Stakes (race 7), which drew seven filly and mare sprinters.