Royal Delta is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs. Four days after the race, she is scheduled to go through the sale ring at the Keeneland November breeding stock auction in Lexington.
A 3-year-old daughter of 2003 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Empire Maker , Royal Delta will be offered in the complete dispersal of horses owned by the late Prince Saud bin Khaled’s Palides Investments. Chanteclair Farm, the Central Kentucky nursery established by Khaled in 1995, is the consignor for the dispersal. Khaled, a native of Saudi Arabia, died in California earlier this year.
“It’s hard to replace her kind,” said Royal Delta’s Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott, who plans to attend the auction on the day the dark bay or brown filly makes her sale ring appearance. “I hope somebody buys her who will be willing to leave her with me. That would be nice.”
Bred and raced in the Palides name, Royal Delta is out of the A.P. Indy mare Delta Princess. A 12-year-old, Delta Princess won six added-money events, including the 2003 Beaugay Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct and the 2005 editions of the Early Times Mint Julep (gr. IIIT) and Locust Grove (gr. IIIT) Handicaps at Churchill.
As part of the Khaled dispersal, Delta Princess will be offered at the Keeneland November sale on the same day as her daughter and is Hip No. 313 in the auction’s catalog. Royal Delta, who will be consigned as a racing or broodmare prospect, is Hip No. 427.
“There is no reason why she shouldn’t run again next year,” said Mott of Royal Delta. “She’s just been getting a good start on her racing career. Knock on wood, she’s been perfectly sound. And with her pedigree, she should get better.”
Royal Delta ran only once in 2010 as a 2-year-old, winning a maiden-special-weight event at a mile by 12 lengths in October at Belmont Park.
“She is an Empire Maker out of an A.P. Indy mare and she also was a big, leggy sort of filly, so there was no reason to think she should be running in May or June as a 2-year-old,” said Mott of Royal Delta’s limited juvenile campaign.
Royal Delta made her 2011 debut in March at Tampa Bay Downs, finishing ninth in the Suncoast Stakes. She rebounded from that lackluster start the following month at Keeneland, posting a three-length win in a 1 1/16-mile allowance event.
In May, Royal Delta scored her first added-money victory, taking the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) by 2 1/2 lengths at Pimlico. She followed that effort with a third-place finish in the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) at Saratoga in July, and then she captured the TVG Alabama Stakes (gr. I) by 5 1/2 lengths at Saratoga in August.
In her most recent outing, Royal Delta was second to Havre De Grace in the Oct. 1 Beldame Invitational Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont. The winner by 8 1/2 lengths, 4-year-old Havre de Grace will take on males in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Churchill the day after the Ladies Classic.
“She (Royal Delta) has gotten better over the course of the season,” Mott said. “She was lightly raced as a 2-year-old and in May she was basically pretty inexperienced. The experience she’s gained in her three races since then has really helped.”
Royal Delta worked a half-mile at Churchill Oct. 30, covering the distance in :47 4/5. The time was the fourth fastest among the 33 horses that worked that distance that day at the Kentucky track.
“She couldn’t be doing any better,” Mott said. “She’s been doing well ever since we shipped her to Churchill and she had a beautiful work over the racetrack. She’s moving very well and she’s looking for her feed. All the things we look for, that’s what she’s showing us.”
Royal Delta will face nine challengers in the Ladies' Classic. The 2-1 morning line favorite is Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Plum Pretty. She finished second in the Coaching Club American Oaks and fourth in the Alabama before winning the Oct. 1 Cotillion Stakes (gr. II) at Parx Racing.
Missing from the Ladies' Classic, in addition to Havre de Grace, are two runners that would have been top contenders. Champion Blind Luck finished unplaced in the Oct. 1 Lady's Secret Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita.
Afterward, her Hall of Fame trainer and co-owner, Jerry Hollendorfer, announced she would skip the Ladies Classic. She was entered in the Keeneland November sale and is scheduled to be offered Nov. 7 as Hip No. 210A by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent. Grade I winner Zazu will miss the Ladies Classic because of inflammation in a shoulder.
“I have no problem with it (the Ladies' Classic field) because it’s much easier to beat nine than it is 14,” Mott said. “I think the filly that went in the Classic (Havre de Grace) would have been a clear favorite (in the Ladies' Classic). Based on what she has done, she was the most accomplished and would have been the justifiable favorite. But I think the Ladies' Classic is still very competitive. Everybody that’s in it is very talented or they’ve reached the point to where they look like they have worked their way up the ladder and they’re in good form right now.”