08/25/2013 6:40PM

Saratoga: Royal Delta still the queen after win in Personal Ensign

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Barbara D. Livingston
Royal Delta and jockey Mike Smith win the Grade 1 Personal Ensign by 4 1/2 lengths Sunday at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Two-time Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta left little doubt that she is indeed still the queen of her division and erased the memory of one of the few blemishes on her outstanding résume’, cruising to a 4 1/2-length victory over Authenticity in Sunday’s $600,000 Personal Ensign. Royal Delta finished second as the odds-on favorite in the 2012 Personal Ensign.

With Mike Smith aboard, Royal Delta seized control  in the opening quarter-mile of the Grade 1 Personal Ensign and never looked back. Despite setting an honest pace of 23.56 seconds, 46.78, and 1:10.76 for the opening six furlongs of the 1 1/8-mile fixture, Royal Delta had no problem dismissing a bid from Authenticity entering the stretch.

Royal Delta quickly opened a commanding advantage approaching the furlong marker and was being geared down by Smith with the issue no longer in doubt near the wire.

Authenticity, who won the Grade 1 Shuvee Handicap five weeks earlier, proved no match for the winner but was second-best, finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front of Centering. On Fire Baby and Open Water completed the order of finish.

Royal Delta, a 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker owned by Besilu Stables and trained by Bill Mott, completed the distance in 1:48.34 and paid $3.10.

“When she comes with her ‘A’ game, that’s what you expect,”  Mott said. “She was good today, and she was good last time. Mike said she was strong, felt great. We lapped up on On Fire Baby; he [jockey Joe Johnson] backed off of us. I guess he could see we were going to go. She’s got a big, beautiful stride, and it’s just hard for some of them to keep up.”

Mott said Royal Delta likely will defend her title in Belmont’s Grade 1 Beldame on Sept. 28, a race she won last year by 8 1/2 lengths.