With seasonal honors in view, champion Royal Delta
and multiple Grade 1 stakes winner It’s Tricky will resume their rivalry
when they meet for a fifth time Saturday in the 74th running of the
Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame Invitational for fillies and mares at Belmont Park.
The one-turn, 1 1/8-mile dirt race on Belmont’s “Super Saturday”
card drew a field of seven and is a “Win and You’re In” event
for the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Royal Delta already has
qualified for the Ladies’ Classic by winning the Delaware Handicap this
Besilu Stables’ Royal Delta, the even-money morning-line favorite
for the Beldame, holds two career wins over It’s Tricky, both achieved last
year, in the Grade 1 Alabama and Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.
It’s Tricky, 7-5 on the morning line, defeated Royal Delta in their first
confrontation, the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks in July 2011 at Saratoga
In their most recent matchup, on August 26, both were upset by long
shot Love and Pride in an eventful running of the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga. In that race, It’s
Tricky stumbled badly at the start and then made a huge inside move into
contention on the far turn before flattening out and finishing third. Heavily
favored Royal Delta, meantime, raced four wide and was fourth in deep stretch
before grinding out a second-place finish, missing by a half-length.
Royal Delta has won more than $2.3 million in her 13 career starts, and
It’s Tricky, owned by Godolphin Racing, has earned nearly $1.6 million in
the same number of races.
Asked about their rivalry, Royal Delta’s Hall of Fame trainer
Bill Mott said, “It’s been a good one. We beat her in the Alabama and
Breeders’ Cup. We beat her last time, although I have to be quite
impressed with It’s Tricky with the remarkable race she ran last time
after stumbling at the start. It was one of those stumbles that could have kept
her from being in the race at all. On her day, she’s one to be reckoned
This will be Royal Delta’s second attempt to win the Beldame,
having finished second last year, beaten 8 ¼ lengths, by Havre de Grace. Royal
Delta used the race as a springboard to her victory in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’
Classic, and Mott laughed when asked about the importance of this year’s Beldame.
“Frankly, it’s a race I’d like to get on my resume as
well as hers,” Mott said. “It’s a race I have never won. I
know I’ve run in it with three of my Breeders’ Cup [Ladies’
Classic] winners, and each has been beaten. Royal Delta was second in it;
Unrivaled Belle was second and she won the Breeders’ Cup; and a filly
named Ajina was second and she won the Breeders’ Cup. So, do I hope I win
it? I’d love to win it, but if I’m second, maybe it’s
Royal Delta figures to be in her usual spot, stalking the pace from
third or fourth, and she likely will spot an early advantage to It’s
Tricky, who should be up near the lead with the speedy Cash for Clunkers.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has kept It’s Tricky at Saratoga at the Greentree
to prepare for the Beldame and will ship her downstate on Friday.
“She’s doing great,” McLaughlin said. “I was up
there for her work two weeks ago, and she worked this Saturday, and she’s
doing very, very well. She’s happy. She certainly isn’t missing
It’s Tricky is undefeated in two starts at Belmont Park,
and has never lost a one-turn race.
“We have good pace and always are there close,” McLaughlin
said. “We feel like the situation is great with the weights being equal
[at 123 pounds]. We gave [Love and Pride] nine pounds last time in the Personal
Ensign when she stumbled.”
A victory over either of the top two would be a major upset, but Hall
of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens has never been one to back down from a challenge.
Jerkens will run Howard Whitbred’s Go Unbridled, a 5-year-old
mare coming off a 6 ½-length victory in the Saratoga Dew for New York-breds on
August 27 at Saratoga.
“It would be pretty hard to think she could win it, but if she
could be in the money it would be a feather in her cap before she goes
breeding,” Jerkens said of Go Unbridled, 20-1 on the morning line.
“She’s doing well, and one thing about her is she can go a
Cash for Clunkers, 8-1 and trainer by Richard Violette, has not been
out since stopping and finishing last in the Delaware Handicap in July, but on
her best days she has been competitive in top company. The daughter of Tiznow
finished second, beaten just three-quarters of a length to It’s Tricky in
the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park, and in her race before that
recorded a 100 Beyer Speed Figure winning the Heatherten at 1 1/16 miles at
Glencrest Farm’s 3-year-old Disposablepleasure, 12-1, returns to Belmont, where she turned
in one of her finest efforts earlier this year, a near-miss second in the Grade
1 Mother Goose. The gray daughter of Giacomo won the Grade 2 Demoiselle at
Aqueduct Racetrack last year as a 2-year-old.
Acting Happy, 20-1, winner of the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico
in 2010, and graded stakes-placed Maristar, 15-1, complete the field.