Taking command on the turn and opening up through
the stretch under a hand ride, odds-on favorite Royal Delta cruised to a
dominating 9 ½-length triumph over It’s Tricky in the Grade 1, $400,000
Beldame Invitational on Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park.
The victory was the third in six starts this year for Royal Delta, who
had already earned an automatic bid to the Breeders’ Cup on November 2 at
Santa Anita Park, where she will defend her title in the Ladies’ Classic
against an all-star lineup expected to include Awesome Feather, Questing and My
Away from the gate alertly, the 4-year-old Royal Delta shadowed
It’s Tricky through an opening quarter-mile in 24.09 seconds and a half
in 46.70. Given her head on the turn, the Empire Maker filly quickly drew
abreast of the front-runner and spun into the lane with a sizeable advantage
that steadily widened to the wire.
“You basically saw what it really was,” said her winning
jockey, Hall of Famer Mike Smith. “It was extremely impressive.”
Royal Delta’s winning time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:48.80.
The Beldame marked the fifth meeting between Royal Delta and It’s
Tricky, with Royal Delta winning three races and It’s Tricky one.
“Congratulations to the
winner,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of It’s Tricky. “We
were second-best. She was very impressive. We thought that Alan Garcia [on Cash
for Clunkers] would be on the lead, but it just didn’t work out that way.
It was a match race all the way and we finished second-best today.”
Owned by Besilu Stables, which purchased her for $8.5 million last
November, Royal Delta came into the Beldame off a second-place finish as the
favorite in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga Race Course. The dark bay
filly, runner-up in last year’s Beldame to eventual Horse of the Year
Havre de Grace, opened her 2012 campaign with a second in the Grade 3 Sabin at
Gulfstream Park, then was ninth in the Dubai World Cup before victories in the
Grade 2 Fleur de Lis and the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap.
“It’s nice to win the race and turn it around a little
bit,” said her Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott. “I’m glad for
Royal Delta; she got beat last time, came back, and avenged that loss today.
She ran a super race – broke well, took it to the horse on the lead and
she was much the best today. Just a very impressive performance.”
The 4-5 favorite, Royal Delta returned $3.70 for a $2 win bet and
earned $240,000, increasing her bankroll to $2,623,851. Overall, she has won
eight of her 14 lifetime starts, with three seconds and one third-place finish.
Go Unbridled finished third, 1 ¼ lengths
behind It’s Tricky, with Maristar and Cash for Clunkers completing the
order of finish. Acting Happy and Disposablepleasure were scratched.