I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard my Dad say over the years, “The cream rises to the top.” I also wish I had taken all those nickels and placed them on the cream of yesterday’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Only the second back-to-back champion in the race's 29-year history, Royal Delta put a cap on Day 1 of the World Championship events with a bold statement of class and versatility. In what was thought to be the strongest of all the 2012 Breeders’ Cup races, the four-year-old daughter of Empire Maker proved with little doubt that she is the best female horse in America.
Surprising almost everyone, Royal Delta and rider Mike Smith went straight to the lead and carved out testing fractions in the $2 million, nine furlong affair.
“I was a little concerned when they were throwing up those fractions, but she kept going and ran them off their feet,” said her trainer, Bill Mott.
A little concerned, but not too much so, as the nine-time Breeders’ Cup winning trainer could see that his big filly was running strong and would have a lot left for any challenges that might come her way. With the lack of any run from the speedy Questing, Royal Delta was able to maintain a working margin through fractions of 45.81, and six furlongs in 1:09.80. As the field, that included seven grade 1 winners, and two unbeaten champions turned for home, My Miss Aurelia and Include Me Out came up to the 8-5 defending champion with menacing moves, but it only gave Royal Delta the chance to show her class, and her heels, as she impressively fought off the challenges to win by a rather easy 1 ½ lengths over a game, My Miss Aurelia.
Final time for the 1 1/8 mile race was 1:48.80. Include Me Out finished another 1 ¼ lengths back in third, and was well clear of the rest of the pack. Questing was eased, but initial reports state that there is nothing seriously wrong with the filly. For Royal Delta, it was win #9 out of 15 career starts, as she joins Bayakoa as the only two-time winner of the race.
For jockey Mike Smith, the victory aboard the Benjamin Leon star, marked his 16th victory in the Breeders’ Cup, breaking a tie for most wins with Jerry Bailey.
To top things off, on a fantastic day for Royal Delta fans, was the confirmation that America’s current Queen of racing will come back next year as a five-year-old.
“She has to remain healthy and we've got big plans for her, but I don't know if there is ever a filly that you could shoot for the moon with, I would say it would probably be one like her,” said Mott.
Look out Goldikova, Royal Delta will be gunning for a three-peat of her own.