02/13/2012 2:24PM

Gulfstream: Royal Delta will launch campaign in Sabin

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Barbara D. Livingston
Royal Delta will prep for the $10 million Dubai World Cup in the Feb. 25 Sabin at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Barring any complications, Royal Delta will make her much anticipated 2012 debut in the Grade 3 Sabin here at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 25.

Trainer Bill Mott confirmed that’s the race he has picked out for Royal Delta’s first start since her easy victory in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic and to use as a prep prior to her current goal, the $10 million Dubai World Classic, on March 31. The Sabin is carded at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Royal Delta was purchased privately by Benjamin Leon’s Besilu Stable for $8.5 million at the Keeneland November sales just four days after her Breeders’ Cup victory and returned to Mott’s care later that month at Payson Park.

“She’s doing well,” said Mott. “I’ve nominated her to the Sabin. It’s the only spot I see for her if we want to run around here. The distance is a little short for her but the timing might work. I’d like to get her started here, get a race into her, and then go to Dubai. I toyed with the idea of not running her and training her up to the World Cup but that would mean she’d be going five months without a race.

Mott also reported that To Honor and Serve has rejoined his stable at Payson but has yet to breeze this winter. To Honor and Serve has not started since winning the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 26.

“He hasn’t breezed yet but we’ve got plenty of time,” said Mott. “We’ll probably look to bring him back early in the Belmont meet but I won’t know exactly when until they get the stakes schedule out. They generally run the Westchester at a mile around that time and we’ll use that as a prep for our first goal, which is the Met Mile. We’ll give him those two races and then everything will be kind of up in the air after that.”

Awesome Maria prepping for Sabin

The Todd Pletcher barn was out in full force at Palm Meadows on Monday. Among his major workers aside from all of the stable’s top 3-year-old prospects was Awesome Maria, who breezed five furlongs in 1:00.23 and galloped out three- quarters in 1:14.78 in company with Liberty Bound. Awesome Maria, who has not started since winning the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont on June 11, is expected to join Royal Delta in the starting gate later this month in the Sabin.

“She’s been ready to run for a month but we couldn’t get an allowance race to go so we’ll probably be taking all the worst of it going into the Sabin off a June layoff, especially going up against a very talented filly like Royal Delta,” said Pletcher.

Other names of note on Monday’s extremely busy tab at Palm Meadows, all of whom went a half-mile, included Pletcher’s undefeated Gemologist (49.77) and El Padrino (48.28 in company with stablemate Rockfield); trainer Nick Zito’s pair of reigning Florida Derby winner Dialed In, who posted the bullet half of 47.30 and Jackson Bend, 48.40 in preparation for his upcoming start in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap; and the undefeated, 2010 Eclipse Award winner Awesome Feather, who also covered the distance in 48.40 over the fast track.

Pletcher said Gemologist will make his 3-year-old debut either in the Tampa Bay Derby or Oaklawn’s Rebel Stakes while El Padrino remains on target for the Risen Star at Fair Grounds.