Two-Time Champion Royal Delta Retired
Two-time champion Royal Delta has been retired and will be bred to Galileo, connections of the 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker announced Nov. 20.
Bred in Kentucky by Palides, the nom de plume of the late Prince Saud bin Khaled, Royal Delta won her only start as a 2-year-old and then blossomed into championship form at 3 when she won four of seven starts, with one second and a third. Victorious in the 2011 TVG Alabama Stakes (gr. I) and Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) to go along with a second in the Beldame Invitational Stakes and third in the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks, both grade I, Royal Delta lit up the track at Churchill Downs and sewed up an Eclipse Award with a scintillating victory in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I).
Just as she had electrified the track in Louisville, Royal Delta lit up the Keeneland pavilion as Besilu Stables' Ben Leon outbid Adena Springs' Frank Stronach to buy the filly for $8.5 million, the third-highest price paid at a Keeneland November sale.
"I've had many great moments in my life but the joy and pleasure that Royal Delta has brought to me and my family is indescribable," Leon said. "She offered us the opportunity to enjoy wonderful places, people and experiences. She was a gift that allowed us many thrilling moments and we will be forever grateful.
"Retiring her was a tough decision especially given the fact that she looks as good as she does, but we believe in doing what's in her best interest. I would like to give special thanks to her Hall of Fame trainer and my friend Bill Mott who has guided her through such a successful racing career and also to my friend, Mike Smith, her Hall of Fame rider. I am looking forward to our future and the new chapter in her life."
“It’s a credit to Mr. Leon to run her not only after such a big purchase price, but again this year for a second season,” Mott said. “Royal Delta will always have a warm spot in my heart as I trained her grandmother and her mother before her. It was special to get her back after the sale and it meant a great deal to all of us.”
Royal Delta launched her 2013 campaign with another victory in the Sabin before being shipped to Dubai for the $10 million Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates (UAE-I).
A disappointing 10th in the world's richest race won by Animal Kingdom , Royal Delta was rested until June when she finished second in the Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs.
With her connections aiming Royal Delta again at a third Breeders' Cup in the renamed Distaff (gr. I), the mare began her quest with a back-to-back victories in the Delaware Handicap, which had been upgraded to grade I status, and the Personal Ensign.
“Royal Delta was so talented," Mike Smith said. "When she brought her A game she could beat any horse in training. She was a monster in the Fleur de Lis at Churchill—ran more than a second faster than the boys (Ron the Greek and Wise Dan in the grade I Stephen Foster), and she ran like that again this year at Delaware and in the Personal Ensign.”
Royal Delta's attempt at a second straight Beldame at 1-5 odds was foiled by Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Princess of Sylmar, who wore down the two-time champion to post a mild upset in her first start against older horses.
Sent to post as the 7-5 favorite in the six-horse Distaff field, Royal Delta and jockey Mike Smith stalked the early pace of Authenticity and appeared poised for a big run with five-eighths of a mile remaining before eventually finishing fourth in the race won by 3-year-old filly Beholder.
Mott was quick to point out that the champion has won graded stakes at seven different tracks.
“She didn’t race exclusively in her back yard, and after both trips to Dubai, she came back to win grade I stakes,” he said.
Royal Delta will be in quarantine at Leon's Besilu Farm in Ocala, Florida, as she prepares for a trip to Ireland and the 2014 book of Galileo. Coolmore's son of Sadler's Wells is a European champion and the most successful stallion currently standing in Europe.
Royal Delta Grazing at Belmont:
Royal Delta jogs at Santa Anita for the 2013 Breeders' Cup:
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