Making only the fourth start of her career, Royal Delta took over just beyond the quarter pole and held off Buster's Ready in the stretch to score in the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) (VIDEO) May 20 at Pimlico Race Course.
The 3-year-old daughter of Empire Maker , a homebred of Palides Investments N. V., had been under consideration for the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), but trainer Bill Mott opted to hold her back for the Black-Eyed Susan. It turned out to be a wise decision, as she was mighty impressive in her 2 1/2-length victory.
Jose Lezcano guided Royal Delta to her first stakes win. The final time for 1 1/8 miles on the fast track was 1:49.60. Buster’s Ready was 5 1/4 lengths better than third-place Hot Summer.
The dark bay/brown filly entered the race off of a dominating three-length triumph in an April 15 allowance contest on the Keeneland Polytrack. She was facing a short but solid field in Baltimore, including two-time stakes winner Wyomia, who had defeated her in the March 12 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Royal Delta was ninth in that race, which was her season debut.
In the Black-Eyed Susan, Royal Delta was content to sit fourth in a field of five through three-quarters, as Hot Summer and Ramon Dominguez led the way through quick fractions of :23.22, :46.26, and 1:10.34. Wyomia and Buster’s Ready pressed the pace.
Royal Delta made her winning move on the second turn, angling off the rail and easily rolling by Hot Summer just beyond the quarter pole. She carried a three-length advantage into the stretch, but Buster’s Ready made her earn it. It wasn't until inside the sixteenth-pole stretch that Royal Delta put her rival away for good.
"Today we got pace," Lezcano said. "She broke good and relaxed. With the pace up front, when I asked her she gave me the run I needed to go. I was surprised at the pace, and we knew we had a good shot. We had plenty."
It was the third win in four starts for Royal Delta, who broke her maiden in her debut going one mile last October at Belmont. She was bred in Kentucky and is out of the A. P. Indy mare Delta Princess. She upped her earnings to $219,600.
"We thought she was a nice filly early on, but soon we realized she was a little better than we thought," Mott said. "Her second race was a little bit of a dud in Tampa. But she's becoming a little more professional. She just keeps coming and coming. We're going to look at the Mother Goose (gr. I, June 25 at Belmont) next."
The winner paid $5.60, $3.80, and $2.60 as the favorite. The exacta (1-5) returned $34.20 and the trifecta (1-5-2) was worth $106. Love Theway Youare finished fourth, while Wyomia trailed.