Once Royal Delta gained control of the G3 Sabin, it was over. Actually it was over before it even began. Royal Delta is just that good. Though she did not break as sharply as she did in the last year’s Ladies’ Classic, there was never any doubt as to who the winner would be this afternoon at Gulfstream Park.
Under a confident Mike Smith, the champion Empire Maker mare quickly moved up to press the pace to the outside of All for Thee. The leading duo promptly got away from the field in the early stages, making it impossible for second choice Grace Hall to make any headway. Once Grace Hall fell so far behind the pace, there was nothing left for her to do but save the show, ruining the straight exacta that most felt the race would see. While Grace Hall struggled to keep up, the “Queen of American Racing” willingly pulled away from her rivals. Jockey Mike Smith was only along for the ride, never having to ask Royal Delta for anything as she finished five lengths clear of All For Thee in 1:43.31 for the 8 1/2 furlongs.
The initial plan for Royal Delta is to follow the same path as last year when she used the Sabin as a prep for taking on males in the Dubai World Cup. Following a second place finish to Awesome Maria in last year’s Sabin, Royal Delta ran a disappointing 9th in the $10 million race. She then went on to record wins in a pair of Grade 2 and a pair of Grade 1 races with the only mar on the second half of her season coming in the G1 Personal Ensign when finishing half a length behind winner Love and Pride as the heavy favorite.
Despite the disappointing result in Dubai, classy Royal Delta was still much the best in the Older Female division, and an emphatic front-running score over a loaded Ladies’ Classic field that included then undefeated champions Awesome Feather and My Miss Aurelia was the feather in the cap of her second championship year. Should Royal Delta win or even finish on the board in Dubai and then go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race many thought she could easily have won last year, or even three-peat in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, then she will have pieced together a campaign worthy of legend.
Like two time Eclipse champion Royal Delta, Grace Hall had a note worthy 2012 season, but the year did not come without its share of setbacks. The Empire Maker filly dropped her seasonal debut as the heavy favorite before drawing away in the Gulfstream Oaks Stakes. She could not string together a pair of wins all season, finishing third in the Kentucky Oaks and fifth in the Alabama Stakes as the favorite in both. Those losses were separated by a win in the Delaware Oaks, and she completed her season with a score in the Indiana Oaks and a respectable fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic behind winner Royal Delta. So far, no future plans have been made for Grace Hall.