While Princess of Sylmar remains at Todd Pletcher's Belmont stables this morning, the plans and money are all set in motion for a Breeders' Cup Distaff showdown against Royal Delta, Beholder, Close Hatches and whoever else shows up. Princess of Sylmar's principal owner Ed Stanco of King of Prussia Stable, is sending the $100,000 nomination fee for a Breeders' Cup early entry, all but guaranteeing a start in the November 1 Distaff at Santa Anita.
Of course the final, final decision comes after a breeze at Belmont on Saturday and a thorough examination by Pletcher. "It's a little like waiting for the white smoke," Stanco said in reference to the long standing signal of a new Pope.
Stanco says the Princess is actually the one making the decision to run the first Friday in November. "It's out of my hands and beyond our syndicate. Really, it has nothing to do with us anymore. If she goes on and wins her fifth straight Grade I, it will be something that has never happened before, and it's up to us not to stop it."
As for Princess of Sylmar's physical condition Stanco said, "Todd told me he's never had a horse like her. She keeps coming back with nothing wrong."
On the track, everything has been nothing but right. In the Kentucky Oaks, Princess of Sylmar dispatched the best field of three-year-old fillies. At Saratoga, she swept by small fields to take the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama. Then during Belmont's Saturday of Stars she shined the brightest passing two-time reigning Filly and Mare Champion, Royal Delta with ease in the Beldame. By the way, Princess of Sylmar is the first filly ever to win these four prestigious races in a row.
While Stanco's initial observation after the Beldame was to leave his homebred filly in the barn, he's simply letting her "do what she wants to do - run. I was willing to wait until her four-year-old season to run he in the Breeders' Cup, but that's not what she is signaling."
Prior to her last race, Stanco wasn't even sure his filly could could catch the champ. "In the Beldame I gave Princess a 30 percent chance of beating the big mare, and she galloped right by Royal Delta in three jumps."
Princess of Sylmar's jumps of equine power and strength have been met by the Stanco clan's somewhat discombobulated, always exuberant jumps for joy as their horse makes her winning move down the stretch. The screaming and the cheering is always followed by hugs all around, in somewhat disbelief at another winning performance and then the raucous entourage of King of Prussia owners taking over the winner's circle shouting, "Ed-die! Ed-die" in Stanco's honor.
Nothing can shake Stanco's confidence - not the travel, the track, or the competition. "It's really all about her. I might have worried about other horses overwhelming her, but she's already beat them all."
A fan of the game and avid handicapper, Stanco sees himself as a steward for Princess of Symlar. "I want everyone in the West Coast and the world to see the way she runs. We owe it the fans, the sport."
So the funds have been transferred, Stanco will be setting travel plans for many - who's landing when, staying where, making sure all have their passes to be in the paddock. There are also plans for new hats for all to sport honoring his prized filly for her Breeders' Cup run.
Fortunately, Stanco has an office in Southern California away from the buzz and fray leading up to the race. He'll do a little work, take a little time to reflect, and then hopes to see Princess of Sylmar make history one more time this racing season.
"There's certainly the juice you feel when she wins. It's addictive and really something to experience."