07/21/2012 6:20PM

Delaware Park: Royal Delta gets job done winning Delaware Handicap

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Royal Delta, on the inside with Mike Smith riding, holds off Tiz Miz Sue to prevail in the Delaware Handicap.

Class and courage carried Royal Delta to victory in Saturday's Grade 2, $750,000 Delaware Handicap.

Racing over a surface she appeared to be laboring over, Royal Delta, last year's champion 3-year-old filly, held off a late charge from Tiz Miz Sue to win the DelCap by a neck. It was 5 3/4 lengths back to Awesome Maria in third. She was followed by Love and Pride, Darling Reality, Pachattack, and Cash for Clunkers.

Royal Delta, owned by Benjamin Leon's Besilu Stables, won for the seventh time in 12 starts. The $450,000 first-place purse increased her career earnings to $2,263,851. The win earned Royal Delta an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic at Santa Anita in November, as the Delaware Handicap was part of the "Win and You're In" program.

Royal Delta was a convincing winner of last year's Ladies Classic. She also was dominant in last year's Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga as well as last month's Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs.

Saturday, under Mike Smith, Royal Delta had to call on her class and courage to get the job done.

"It was nothing more than that," winning trainer Bill Mott said afterward.

Love and Pride, under Jeremy Rose, was gunned to the lead and set fractions of 22.87 seconds for the quarter, 45.70 for the half-mile and 1:09.80 for six furlongs, a suicidal pace for a 1 1/4-mile race. Rose kept Love and Pride well off the rail.

Smith, meanwhile, did not want to get Royal Delta trapped on the rail, so he took her to an outside path while racing in second position within four lengths of the lead.

"I just did not want to get trapped on the rail. Everybody knew I was on the horse to beat," Smith said.

To Mott's eye, Rose kept looking back to find Royal Delta.

"He looked like that girl in 'The Exorcist' when her head spun around," Mott said.

At the three-eighths pole, Smith, on Royal Delta, and Ramon Dominguez, on second choice Awesome Maria, went after Love and Pride. Smith had to go four wide while Dominguez came through an opening along the rail.

Turning into the stretch, however, Awesome Maria became a non-factor and the threat became Tiz Miz Sue, under Joe Rocco Jr. Tiz Miz Sue entered the DelCap with a 4-2-0 record from 6 starts at Delaware Park, including a runner-up finish to Havre de Grace in last year's Obeah Handicap.

It appeared as though Royal Delta was laboring in the final three-sixteenths, but she was able to hold Tiz Miz Sue - to whom she was giving 10 pounds - at bay for the win, running a final quarter in 27.49 seconds. She covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.51 and returned $3 as the favorite.

"She was not going to let the other horse go by," Smith said. "It wasn't her track, and she just kept running anyway."

Mott said that Royal Delta was scheduled to van to Saratoga Saturday night. She will be pointed to the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational Handicap there on Aug. 26.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the race record of Tiz Miz Sue. She was second in the 2011 Obeah Handicap, not the 2011 Delaware Handicap.