While two-time champion Royal Delta may be wrapping up a 2013 campaign with planned starts in the Sept. 28 Beldame Invitational (gr. I) and the Nov. 1 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I)—which she's won twice already—it isn't too soon for her connections to begin mulling options for her future as a broodmare.
The 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker will likely be retired at the end of the season, although owner Benjamin Leon Jr. hasn't ruled out racing in 2014. All of that will be decided after the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park in November and consultations with Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
Current discussions for Royal Delta's future after racing, however, involve an intriguing angle. According to Fabricio Buffolo, racing manager for Leon's Besilu Stables, a trip to Europe could be in the cards for the two-time Eclipse Award winner, who has excelled at longer distances on the dirt in the U.S.
"We're not excluding America; there is a chance she could stay here," Buffolo said. "But if she goes to Europe, because the trip is a long trip, we might breed her, then wait one year. She'd have her first foal, then we could cover her again and bring her back to America.
"Or, we could do the other way around—if we weren't going to have her go to Europe right away, we could have a couple foals here and then send her over."
Royal Delta is out of the A.P. Indy mare Delta Princess and was purchased by Leon for $8.5 million at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale in 2011 after her first Breeders' Cup victory in the Distaff, then known as the Ladies' Classic.
"Of course we're going to do a lot of work by the end of the year to determine the cross for her, but we really want to stress that we're going to be open to different options," Buffolo said. "If we think there's something really interesting to do here, and there's a horse that could really work with her pedigree-wise and physically, we'll consider that. But we're thinking maybe Europe would be an interesting thing to do."
Royal Delta nicks well with leading European stallion Galileo, a four-time champion sire in Europe who stands at Coolmore Stud. Another option could be a son of Galileo, three-time champion Frankel, the record-holder for consecutive European group I wins.
Visiting Frankel at Juddmonte's Banstead Mannor Stud has been a trendy venture for grade I-winning American mares. Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Oatsee, Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) winner Zagora, Balance, Dynaforce, and In Lingerie were among those listed in his first book this season.
"Frankel was an exceptional horse; he'd be a horse we'd think about, and then there are a couple others that are interesting," Buffolo said. "Obviously, the Galileo cross has had a lot of success."
Rags to Riches, the 2007 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner, was one grade I-winning American mare sent to Galileo. She produced Galileo colts in 2011 and 2012.
Of course, Royal Delta's connections aren't putting the cart before the horse.
"We want to wait until the Breeders' Cup and then see what the plan will be with her," Buffolo said. "We know it's likely she will retire; it's not 100% but the chances are bigger she will retire. After the Breeders' Cup, we'll think more about the stallion."
To view more potential matings for the champion racemare, visit the TrueNicks blog "A Date for Delta: Mating Royal Delta."