Royal Performance in the Ladies' Classic
Royal Delta ran down the pacesetters in deep stretch to win the $1,818,000 million Breeders' Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) by 2 1/2 lengths, giving trainer Bill Mott consecutive victories in the race (VIDEO) at Churchill Downs Nov. 4. She was ridden by Jose Lezcano.
The 3-year-old daughter of 2003 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Empire Maker started as the 2-1 favorite in the 1 1/8-mile contest on Churchill Downs’ main track, which was labeled as good. Royal Delta came into the race off a second-place finish in the Beldame Invitational Stakes (gr. I) to Havre de Grace, who will start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) on Nov. 5. Prior to the Beldame, the Royal Delta had won the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) by 5 1/2 lenghts at Saratoga.
With the victory, Royal Delta likely cinched this year's Eclipse Award for 3-year-old fillies.
Mott, trainer of last year's Ladies' Classic winner Unrivaled Belle, said he was a bit concerned about the moderate pace early in the race. Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Plum Pretty took the lead quickly after the break and led the field of eight other horses through opening fractions of :24.18, :49, and 1:13.72.
“I thought it was a little slow but I think it is a testament to her ability and her tremendous turn of foot to close on that kind of pace,” said Mott.
At the top of the stretch, It's Tricky challenged Plum Pretty, who continued to lead to the furlong marker, but Royal Delta was rolling in the middle of the track from fourth on It’s Tricky’s outside.
“I was concerned about the slow pace, but when I hit the quarter pole, I felt very comfortable,” said rider Jose Lezcano, who claimed his second Breeders’ Cup win.
The final time was 1:50.78. It’s Tricky, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, finished second by 2 1/4 lengths over Pachattack, who ran on for third with Rajiv Maragh aboard. Ultra Blend rallied to be fourth, edging the tired Plum Pretty. Ask the Moon, Super Espresso, Satans Quick Chick, and Miss Match completed the order.
Royal Delta is a homebred for the late Prince Saud bin Khaled’s Palides Investments. Khaled, who died earlier this year, kept his breeding stock at Chanteclair Farm in Central Kentucky. The farm has bred and raised 22% stakes winners from foals since the nursery was established in 1995, according to Karen Woods, who raced 2008 Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Maram with Khaled.
Royal Delta will be offered next week during the Keeneland November breeding stock sale as part of a complete dispersal of Khaled’s horses. Khaled also bred and raced Royal Delta’s dam, grade III winner Delta Princess, who was trained by Mott.
“It will be terrible hard to see her go,” said Ron Wallace, president and general manager of Chanteclair, about Royal Delta.
Royal Delta posted her fifth career win in eight starts and extended her earnings to $1,694,600 with the winner's slice of $1,080,000.
Kiaran McLaughlin, the trainer of It’s Tricky, said he thought the daughter of Mineshaft ran a great race.
“We were hoping Ask the Moon would take on (Bob) Baffert’s filly and set it up more for us,” said McLaughlin, referring to pacesetter Plum Pretty. “But we ran well; we were just second best.”
Gerard Butler, trainer of Pachattack, was also happy with his mare’s performance.
“I didn’t know at one stage whether we’d get fourth or third,” Butler said of the daughter of Pulpit .
The winner paid $6.40, $4, and $3.20. It’s Tricky paid $5 and $3.80, while Pachattack paid $6. The $2 exacta paid $32, and a $2 trifecta paid $233.
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