there were any doubts about two-time Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta
following back-to-back losses this year in Dubai and at Churchill Downs,
they were erased in the 2:02.04 it took her to power to a 10 ¾-length
victory in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap.
Sunday, the 5-year-old mare, a two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup
Ladies' Classic, returns to Saratoga Race Course on track for a third
straight championship as she heads a field of five for the Grade 1,
$600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational Handicap. The 1 1/8-mile race will
earn the winner an automatic berth and an all-fees-paid entry into the
Breeders' Cup Distaff - formerly the Ladies' Classic - this fall as part
of the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" series.
hoping the last race is an indication of good things to come," said
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott of Royal Delta, who races for Besilu
Stables and has earned more than $4.2 million. "Hopefully she can
maintain her form through the end of the year."
the same path as she did last year, Royal Delta opened her 2013
campaign with an easy five-length win in the Grade 3 Sabin in February
at Gulfstream Park. She next traveled to Dubai for another try in the
Dubai World Cup, finishing 10th after setting the pace, and 2
½ months later was sent off as the 3-10 favorite in the Grade 2 Fleur
de Lis at Churchill Downs. Wide throughout, she finished second, beaten
five lengths, by Funny Proposition.
we were disappointed in the Kentucky race, and a little confused by
it," said Mott. "We did take her off Lasix after that, and she'll run
without Lasix again."
of Famer Mike Smith, who gave up the mount aboard Game On Dude in the
Grade 1 Pacific Classic on Sunday, will be aboard Royal Delta once
again. She will leave from post position 2 under high weight of 124
pounds as the 2-5 program favorite.
sure it wasn't an easy decision [for Smith] and I hope for everyone's
sake it works out well," said Mott. "I hope she comes back and runs a
good race and gets the job done to justify his decision."
Todd Pletcher, who last year upset Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign
with 10-1 shot Love and Pride, sends out Authenticity in the hopes of
6-year-old Quiet American mare has been no worse than third in six
starts for Pletcher this year, including a professional one-length
victory in the Grade 3 84 Lumber Shuvee Handicap on July 20 at Saratoga
last time out. Prior to that she earned a career high 103 Beyer Speed
Figure for her second-place finish to Tiz Miz Sue in the Grade 1 Ogden
Phipps Handicap on May 27 at Belmont Park, and a 102 for her victory in
the Grade 2 La Troienne at Churchill Downs.
feel like she's doing better coming into this race than the last one,
and I thought she was doing well going into that one," said Pletcher,
who trains Authenticity for Padua Stables. "Particularly her last two
breezes [49.65 on August 19 and 1:01.92 on August 12] were exceptional,
and I just feel like her overall appearance, her coat and everything,
she looks like she's really just in peak form.
certainly needs to be to run in this type of race against a mare the
quality of Royal Delta," he added. "We're pleased that Authenticity is
as good as she can be, and we'll see what happens on race day. Having a
race over the track, I think, helps, and a mile and an eighth is
certainly perfect for her. We'll hope for a little racing luck and see
of Famer John Velazquez will be aboard Authenticity, who drew post
position 5 and was listed as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line.
Authenticity will be facing Royal Delta for the first time, Centring
has already tangled with the champion mare, having finished fourth,
beaten 15 lengths in the Delaware Handicap. Prior to that, the
5-year-old A.P. Indy mare was third, beaten 1 ½ lengths, in the Ogden
don't really believe she liked the track at Delaware," said trainer Tom
Albertrani. "She ran way below expectations. She ran well over this
track last year. I can see she is training a little sharper coming into
this weekend, so I feel pretty good about her. Even if we just hit the
frame, we're going to be happy. If Royal Delta stubs a toe or something,
we're going to be there, but we're going to do our best just to be in
the frame, hopefully. She ran well two races back at Belmont, so we're
just hoping for that same kind of effort out of her."
Castellano has the mount on Centring, a Darley Stable homebred who will
leave from post position 4. She is listed at 12-1 on the morning line.
out the field are Grade 1 Apple Blossom winner On Fire Baby (5-1), most
recently second by a head to Authenticity in the La Troienne, and Open
Water (20-1), eighth in the De La Rose on August 3 at Saratoga.