Royal Delta dominates the Fleur de Lis.<br><a target="blank" href="!i=1909823367&k=fKBR8Qx">Order This Photo</a>

Royal Delta dominates the Fleur de Lis.
Order This Photo

Anne M. Eberhardt

Royal Delta Cruises by 8 in Fleur de Lis

Returning champion wins by eight lengths under the Twin Spires.

Champion Royal Delta returned to the scene of her Breeders’ Cup triumph last fall and cruised to an easy eight-length victory against five older fillies and mares in the June 16 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs (VIDEO). The Fleur de Lis was run one race before the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I).

Royal Delta, racing for Benjamin Leon’s Besilu Stables, won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) under the Twin Spires on her way to being named champion 3-year-old filly while racing for breeder Palides Investments and trainer Bill Mott. Consigned as part of the late Saud bin Khaled’s Palides Investments dispersal, she brought $8.5 million at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale from Leon.

The Fleur de Lis winner is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Empire Maker  out of the A.P. Indy mare Delta Princess.

Remaining with Mott, she ran second to Awesome Maria in the 1 1/16-mile Sabin Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park in preparation for a run at the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). She ran ninth at Meydan in the 10-furlong World Cup. She had remained with Mott at Belmont Park before shipping to Churchill Downs for the Fleur de Lis.

Toting highweight of 123 pounds (conceding from five to nine pounds) and being ridden by Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith for the first time, Royal Delta broke well and settled into third position early while well off the rail in the $161,700 Fleur de Lis. The pace was set by Sterling Madame who got an opening quarter-mile in :23.71 and a half-mile in :47.70 in the nine-furlong test while being tracked by Afleeting Lady. St. John's River was in fourth while skimming the rail.

Royal Delta was on the move and engaged the leaders after Afleeting Lady had taken the lead while completeing six furlongs in 1:12.03. Royal Delta easily cruised past the pacesetters and set sail for home. The only question in the stretch was what was going to be the final margin as Royal Delta easily pulled away from her foes while hitting the eighth pole in 1:36.50. The final time was 1:49.49.

Afleeting Lady finished second and St. John’s River was 4 ¼ lengths back in  third. Sterling Madame was fourth and was followed by It's Tea Time and Distorted Love.

The heavy favorite at 3-5, Royal Delta paid $3.20, $2.60, and $2.10. Afleeting Lady paid $3.80 and $2.60. St. John’s River returned $2.20. The exacta (5-3) paid $14.60.

Royal Delta, who won the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) last year prior to the Breeders’ Cup, now has a record of 6-2-1 from 11 starts with earnings of $1,813,851.