Even though there recently has been talk that Royal Delta should tackle males in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), the 4-year-old filly will try instead to win the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) for the second year in a row, said Benjamin Leon Jr. of Besilu Stables Oct. 4. He also revealed that last year's champion 3-year-old filly will race again in 2013 with the goal of returning to Dubai for the World Cup (UAE-I) after finishing unplaced in that event this year.
"She is capable of competing with the males, but we have a plan that I don't want to deviate from," said Leon of Royal Delta's agenda for the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held Nov. 2 and 3 at Santa Anita Park. "Then we'll run her in a prep race in February and then we'll take her to Dubai to give her a second shot there to compete with the males, the best in the world. If she runs a good race, she should be able to win. Then we'll take it one step at a time. Down the road, we should have the opportunity to see her compete in the Breeders' Cup Classic."
Royal Delta topped the Keeneland November breeding stock sale last year when Leon, in the name of Besilu, purchased her for $8.5 million from Chanteclair Farm, agent for the dispersal of Palides Investments. The daughter of Empire Maker and the grade III-winning A.P. Indy mare Delta Princess has a career record of eight wins in 14 races and earnings of $2,623,851.
"As long as she's healthy and happy, I think it would be a disservice to her and a disservice to the Thoroughbred fans not to let her run," said Leon, a South Florida health care magnate. "That is what she was bred to do. Of course, she also was bred to make babies, but we're not in a rush with that. We want to enjoy her and share her with the Thoroughbred community for at least next year. You never know, we might even run her longer than that. But if she stays healthy, we'll at least do it next year and see where that takes us."
After being returned by Leon to her Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott, Royal Delta opened her 2012 campaign with a runner-up finish to Awesome Maria in the Feb. 25 Sabin Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park and then journeyed to Dubai, where she was ninth in the World Cup.
"Bill never really was attempting to win the race with her in February," Leon said. "It was only a prep race and it was actually shorter (1 1/16 miles) than what she could do (her best distance). Then we took her to Dubai and she had a very bad trip. Otherwise, we thought she ran good. She handled that artificial surface very nicely. She was very healthy and happy in Dubai and when she got there she was ready to go (out and run).
"When she got back to New York, she was still happy and coming out of her skin. She also travels well. It's a long way to Dubai and she handled that very nicely. She usually doesn't burn any more energy than she has to and she's a very calm, smart horse, so we want to give her a second (World Cup) shot."
Royal Delta captured the Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) in May and the Delaware Handicap (gr. II) in July. She then finished second in the Personal Ensign Handicap (gr. I) in August. In her most recent outing, Royal Delta romped to a 9 1/2-length victory in the Sept. 29 Beldame Invitational Stakes (gr. I), which generated excitement among racing fans about a possible Breeders' Cup Classic attempt.
"I love her more and more each day; she is a very special part of the family now," said Leon of Royal Delta. "As you know, she was a present to my wife for her birthday that day that I bought her and she's very special to me because of that, too. It would be wonderful to see her be the very first female to win the World Cup."
Carrying the colors of her breeder, Palides Investments, Royal Delta triumphed by 2 1/2 lengths last November in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Churchill Downs prior to being sold at Keeneland.