Royal Delta made short work of a short field on Sunday at Saratoga Race
Course, taking over on the backstretch and cruising to a commanding
victory in the 66th running of the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign
victory earned the 5-year-old mare, a two-time Eclipse Award winner, an
automatic berth and an all-fees-paid entry into the Breeders' Cup
Distaff at Santa Anita this fall as part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge
"Win and You're In" series. Should she run, Royal Delta would be
bidding for her third straight victory in the race, but Hall of Fame
trainer Bill Mott said that like last year, the Besilu Stables
color-bearer would be cross-entered in the Classic.
up as the odds-on favorite against four foes, Royal Delta was away
quickly and went into the first turn perched just off On Fire Baby, who
led through an opening quarter-mile in 23.56 seconds. Straightened away
on the backside, Smith let Royal Delta glide into the lead, where she
proceeded to bound through a half-mile in 46.78, with three-quarters
going in 1:10.76.
the turn, second choice Authenticity mustered a run at Royal Delta but
she quickly pulled clear and hit the wire 4 ½ widening lengths in front
while being kept to task by Smith.
just was happy I got away good today, and once we did that and she got
into her monstrous stride;horses seem to have to take two [strides] to
her one," said Smith. "She's a machine. Down the lane, she got to
looking around the track a little bit, so I got after her just a little
to keep her going."
Delta's time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:48.34 as she avenged her defeat in
last year's edition to the Todd Pletcher-trained Love and Pride.
went wrong, didn't it, last year," said Smith. "She got really, really
hot. I didn't think I rode her really well last year. I was just getting
to know her. I didn't let her use that big stride that she has early. I
should have then because I think I would have won that one. But you
live and learn, and it's just getting better and better."
off at 3-5 by the crowd of 18,706, Royal Delta returned $3.10 for a $2
win bet. The victory, her sixth in a Grade 1, was her third in five
starts this year, and the winner's purse of $360,000 increased her
bankroll to $4,611,126.
she comes with her 'A' game, that's what you expect," said Mott of
Royal Delta, a 9 ¾-length winner of the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap prior
to the Personal Ensign. "She was just good. She was good last time. Mike
said she was strong and felt great."
was second, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Centring, who was followed under
the wire by On Fire Baby. Open Water checked in fifth.
said the next start for Royal Delta likely would be on September 28 at
Belmont Park in the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame Invitational, which she
won last year prior to the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.
"I think that's what we'd probably do," he said