For quite some time now, she has proven her supremacy amongst
the other female Thoroughbreds in the United States, capturing six grade one
races – including two editions of the most significant race for her division. Dubbed
as the current “Queen of Racing” by many, she has earned that title, dominating
the female division as of late. Her name is Royal Delta.
But there is another leading lady proving her brilliance, posing as a threat
towards Royal Delta. Once a filly that played the role of underdog, she has
now risen to the top of her class, winning three of the most important races in
her division, stamping herself as the “princess” of that group. Her name is Princess of Sylmar.
These two royalties will clash on Saturday in the Beldame Invitational Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. Royal Delta
will be defending her title, as she captured this race in a breathtaking manner
last fall, leaving her rivals 9 ½ lengths behind. Princess of Sylmar, on the
other hand, will be aiming to become the first three-year-old to win the race
since Imperial Gesture in 2002. Royal Delta played this role in 2011, but was
left 8 ¼ lengths behind the leading older female of that year: Havre de Grace.
Does Princess of Sylmar face the same fate as Royal Delta did as a sophomore?
Like Royal Delta did two years ago, Princess of Sylmar is coming off a dominant
victory in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga. But unlike the
three-year-old Royal Delta, Princess of Sylmar enters the Belmont off of three
consecutive grade one victories: the Kentucky Oaks, the Coaching Club American
Oaks, and the Alabama Stakes.
Princess of Sylmar began this year as an underestimated talent, but has
blossomed into the most respected three-year-old filly in the nation. In her five
victories this year, she has won by a combined 23 ½ lengths and has only one
loss under her belt in 2013. The Beldame will be her first test against older
mares, but she has clearly outshone those in her division and appears prepared
to advance to greater challenges.
Meanwhile, Royal Delta enters the Beldame off of two consecutive grade one
triumphs, which she conquered by a combined 15 ¼ lengths. Prior to these
breathtaking victories, Royal Delta did not perform up to par, running poorly
in the Dubai World Cup (gr. I) and finishing a distant second in the Fleur de
Lis Handicap (gr. II), but since then, the two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup
Ladies’ Classic (Distaff) (gr. I) has been untouchable.
The Eclipse Award-winning mare clearly has an affinity for Belmont Park, having
won two of her three starts at the Elmont, New York track – one of which, of
course, was the 2012 Beldame. A mare who seems to flourish in the fall, Royal
Delta has trained well in preparation for defense of her title. This was
evident in her final work, a 47.88 half-mile breeze over Belmont’s main track
on Monday morning, which ranked as the seventh-fastest of the 69 horses that
worked at the same distance that morning.
Both Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar have a solid chance to take home a
victory on Saturday, but regardless of which spectacular female crosses the
wire first, they each have likely clinched championship honors for their
respective divisions. Saturday's Beldame merely serves as an exciting event for racing
fans to enjoy a showdown between two of the best racehorses in the nation.
Who do you think will win?