Princess of Sylmar Only Lacking in Awards
by Tracy Gantz
Date Posted: 10/31/2013 6:24:59 PM
Last Updated: 11/1/2013 4:17:49 PM
Princess of Sylmar won the 2013 Beldame.
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Of the big three in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I), only Princess of Sylmar doesn't yet have a Breeders' Cup victory and an Eclipse Award to her credit. That's because the 3-year-old filly didn't begin her career until last Oct. 12, only three weeks before the 2012 World Championships.
Royal Delta has two Distaff wins and two Eclipses, while Beholder has a Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and one Eclipse. But don't let an apparent lack of hardware tout you off Princess of Sylmar. She has plenty of trophies of her own, being the only filly ever to sweep the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), and Alabama Stakes (gr. I).
She also comes from the barn of Todd Pletcher, who once again is leading all North American trainers by earnings. Pletcher has won seven Breeders' Cup races, and he ranks fourth, behind only D. Wayne Lukas, Bill Mott, and the late Bobby Frankel, on the list of Breeders' Cup trainers by money won.
Ed Stanco is Princess of Sylmar's principal owner with a few friends in the King of Prussia Stable. He bred the daughter of Majestic Warrior in Pennsylvania.
Princess of Sylmar almost didn't travel to Santa Anita Park for the Distaff after she defeated Royal Delta in the Sept. 28 Beldame Invitational Stakes (gr. I). That performance might have earned her the 3-year-old filly title over Beholder, whom she beat in the Kentucky Oaks.
"Ed and I talked about some future plans way back before the Kentucky Oaks," said Pletcher. "He told me that the race that he really, really wanted to win—his dream race from when he was young and going to Saratoga--was the Alabama."
With that in mind, Pletcher and Stanco outlined a program that could give Princess of Sylmar a breather between the Kentucky Oaks and the CCA Oaks to set her up for the Alabama.
"It's very, very difficult to make long-term plans in this game," said Pletcher.
Yet Princess of Sylmar embarked on Pletcher and Stanco's plan and repaid them with wins in all three of those major events for sophomore fillies.
"Fortunately for us, she has been remarkably consistent and has just gotten better and better," said Pletcher. "My strategy has always been, let's see how she runs and let's see how she comes out of it. Let's watch her and let her tell us what the decisions should be."
The Breeders' Cup Distaff posed two challenges for Princess of Sylmar—running against older females and shipping to California from her New York base. She put the first to rest in the Beldame. After she worked a half-mile in :48.46 on the Belmont Park training track Oct. 19, Pletcher told Stanco that the drill was "excellent" and they decided to put her in the Distaff.
A filly with a devastating stalking style, Princess of Sylmar drew the outside post position in the six-horse field. Javier Castellano, who leads all jockeys in the nation by purse earnings and wins and has been aboard in most of her starts this year, will ride her. The jockey talent in the race is considerable, with three Hall of Fame riders in the field—Mike Smith on Royal Delta, Gary Stevens on Beholder, and John Velazquez on Authenticity, Pletcher's other entrant.
"I think it's going to be a very interesting rider's race," said Pletcher. "You've got Royal Delta, who has done some of her best running on the lead. She can also sit (off the pace). Beholder seems to be very dangerous when she's on the lead, but I see that they train her to sit off horses. Close Hatches also has a little speed, but she was good last time from off the pace. Tactically, Mike and Gary have some decisions to make."
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