Besilu's Stable's Royal Delta, last year’s champion 3-year-old filly, will return to Churchill Downs for the first time since she capped her sophomore season with a 2 1/2-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) in the Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II).
The Fleur de Lis for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, will be run under the lights for the first time as part of the “Downs After Dark” Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia racing program June 16.
After finishing second in the Sabin Stakes (gr. III) to Awesome Maria in her 4-year-old debut, Royal Delta traveled to Dubai, where she finished ninth against the boys in the $10 million Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (UAE-I).
Since returning to the states, Royal Delta has recorded four workouts at Belmont Park. Most recently she breezed five furlongs in :59 2/5 June 3. It was the fastest of 29 works at the distance.
“She’s doing really well and has had a couple of nice works since coming back,” said trainer Bill Mott. “The (Fleur de Lis) wasn’t something that was planned right after the World Cup, but it’s something we came up with a couple of weeks ago.”
By Empire Maker, Royal Delta has a record of 5-2-1 from 10 starts that is highlighted by victories in the Alabama (gr. I) and the Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II), as well as the aforementioned Ladies’ Classic.
She was ridden by Jose Lezcano in nine of her 10 starts, but will have a new rider in the Fleur de Lis as Mott confirmed Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will get the mount June 16.
Royal Delta is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs June 11.