Royal Delta in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.

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Royal Delta in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.
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Anne M. Eberhardt

Royal Delta: Winner On and Off the Track

Champion filly now owned by Ben Leon Jr., who bought her for $8.5 million.

Royal Delta had a huge year in 2011, both on the racetrack and in the auction ring, and the filly will kick off 2012 with an Eclipse Award as new owner Ben Leon Jr. points her toward greater accomplishments.

On Jan. 16, Royal Delta was honored as champion 3-year-old filly, garnering 243 of the total 248 first-place votes cast. Awesome Feather received two votes, as did Plum Pretty. Zazu received one vote.

An impressive winner of her only start at 2, Royal Delta ran toward the top of racing’s 3-year-old division by winning or placing in six of her seven starts in 2011, including  victories in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) in May and in August’s TVG Alabama Stakes (gr. I). In the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) posted her fifth career win in eight starts under jockey Jose Lezcano and extended her earnings to $1,694,600.

Fresh off her scintillating victory in the Nov. 4 Ladies’ Classic, the daughter of Empire Maker --Delta Princess, by A.P. Indy, went through the sales ring at the Keenelenad November breeding stock sale, commanding a winning bid of $8.5 million from Ben Leon Jr.’s Besilu Stables. Consigned to the Keeneland sale as part of the dispersal of her breeder and former owner, the late Saud bin Khaled’s Palides Investments, Royal Delta sold for the third-highest price in the history of the November sale.

Following a brief freshening, Royal Delta is now working toward an even bigger goal: running in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 31 at Meydan Racecourse. The 4-year-old filly will remain under the care of trainer Bill Mott, who has conditioned her since the beginning of her career.

“The people that were able to work around her before are excited to have her back; it’s just good for the morale of the stable,” Mott said. “It gives us all something to look forward to. It’s a new challenge for us this year to keep things going.”