06/04/2005 12:00AM

Delta Princess up late to take Mint Julep

Four-Footed Fotos
Delta Princess (7), ridden by Robby Albarado, goes by Shaconage to win the Early Times Mint Julep.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - So much for closers being at a disadvantage against a slow pace. Although on paper the $110,100 seemed to lack much speed, the winner of the Grade 3 race Saturday at Churchill Downs was Delta Princess, who passed the entire field in the final quarter-mile to win going away.

Ridden by Robby Albarado and trained by Bill Mott, Delta Princess returned $5.20 as the favorite in a field of seven fillies and mares. Shaconage, the 2-1 second choice, finished a length back in second, while Erhu, at 18-1 the longest shot in the field, was another four lengths back in third.

Delta Princess, owned by Saud bin Khaled, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.43 over a turf course rated good. The victory was the 10th in 25 lifetime starts for Delta Princess, a 6-year-old A.P. Indy mare. She had finished a fast-closing second to Intercontinental in her previous start, the April 17 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland, a race that followed a last-to-first triumph in the Endeavour at Tampa Bay Downs in late February.

Mott had also nominated Sand Springs and Noisette to the Mint Julep but clearly made the right choice by sending out only Delta Princess.

"I think the race unfolded like we thought it would," said Kenny McCarthy, who oversees Mott's Churchill string. "Our concern was that there would not be that much pace in there. Robby rode a perfect race on her, and she really came home great for us. That's been her style, to drop back and come with just one big run. She's got a heck of a closing kick."

Pretty Jane cut out an opening quarter-mile of 24.11 seconds in the 29th running of the Mint Julep, then was passed on the backstretch by Shaconage, then Erhu. Following six furlongs in 1:12.42, Shaconage opened a clear lead in midstretch but was no match for the torrid late run by Delta Princess.

The Mint Julep victory was the third for Mott, following Innsbruck in 1987 and Bail Out Becky in 1995.