06/13/2013 3:44PM

Impact of Cecil’s standout runners seen through Royal Delta, Palace Malice

Barbara D. Livingston
Champion Royal Delta is a granddaughter of Lyphard's Delta, who the late Henry Cecil trained to Group 2 success.

The legendary trainer Henry Cecil, who died on Tuesday at age 70 following a battle with cancer, trained several top-level runners who went on to make an impact on American racing and breeding. Among those was Group 2 winner Lyphard’s Delta—who could provide another fitting coda to Cecil’s legacy when her champion granddaughter Royal Delta starts as the heavy favorite in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Stakes Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Lyphard’s Delta, a daughter of Lyphard out of 1976’s champion older mare Proud Delta, began her career in England, where Cecil saddled her to a victory in the Group 2 Nassau Stakes in 1993. Transferred to trainer Bobby Frankel in the U.S., she concluded her career the following season with four wins from 12 starts for earnings of $151,642.

Lyphard’s Delta proved to be a standout broodmare, producing 10 winners from as many starters, including three graded or group stakes winners, two of whom are stakes producers. Chief among those is Delta Princess, a daughter of A.P. Indy who captured the Locust Grove Handicap, Beaugay Handicap, and Early Times Mint Julep Handicap, all Grade 3 events. The mare is now the dam of four winners from as many starters, including two-time Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Royal Delta. The daughter of Empire Maker, an eight-time graded stakes winner, earned the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly in 2011 and followed it with the champion older female title last year. Empire Way, a full brother to Royal Delta, was Grade 2-placed as a 3-year-old.

Indy Five Hundred, a full sister to Delta Princess, captured the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders’ Cup Handicap and also went on to produce stakes-placed Ecliptic. Biondetti, by A.P. Indy’s son Bernardini, became the second Grade/Group 1 winner for Lyphard’s Delta when he captured the Gran Criterium in Italy in 2010; he was also Group 3-placed in France.

Lyphard’s Delta will have the chance to make a continued impact on regional breeding through Biondetti, now standing his first season at Woodford Thoroughbreds in Reddick, Fla.; and Empire Way, who also entered stud this year at Lovacres Ranch in Signal Hill, Calif.

Another of Cecil’s trainees, Royal Anthem, also left a major mark on the American scene recently, as his grandson Palace Malice captured the Belmont Stakes.

Royal Anthem, a son of Theatrical, posted five of his six career wins for Cecil, including Grade/Group 1 scores in Canadian International and the Juddmonte International. He made his final two starts in the U.S. for Bill Mott, finishing second in the 1999 Breeders’ Cup Turf and then winning the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders’ Cup Handicap the following February.

Now standing at Tullogher House Stud in Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, Royal Anthem is the sire of 115 winners for earnings of $9,594,229 from his first nine crops to race. Among his stakes winners was Palace Rumor, who captured the 2006 Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park. The mare is now the dam of three winners from as many starters, including Palace Malice. From the first crop of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, the well-regarded colt, twice graded stakes-placed this spring, broke through with a win in the Belmont on June 8.

As might be expected, many of Royal Anthem’s other good runners have come at marathon distances and on turf. He is the sire of multimillionaire Presious Passion, winner of two editions of the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes; steeplechase standout Divine Fortune; and Crustaceo, champion imported older horse in Puerto Rico.