Royal Delta denied It’s Tricky a
sweep of the TVG Triple Tiara with a runaway victory in the 131st
running of the Grade 1, $500,000 TVG Alabama on Saturday at Saratoga Race
Third behind Alabama
starters It’s Tricky and Plum Pretty in the Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club
American Oaks at the Spa on July 23, Royal Delta emphatically reversed the form
of that race, blowing past favored It’s Tricky at the eighth-pole of the
1 ¼-mile TVG Alabama to post a 5 ½-length victory.
Royal Delta settled in third as she skimmed the rail, raced two lengths
off the pace behind Plum Pretty’s moderate fractions of 49.31 and
1:13.12. Waiting as It’s Tricky ranged up to the lead nearing the
quarter-pole, she rallied outside horses to take the lead in midstretch, and
widened the margin despite ducking in sharply and brushing the rail after
forging to the front.
Off as the 5-1 fifth choice in the field of six 3-year-old fillies,
Royal Delta returned $13 to her backers in the crowd of 33,380. The final time
Both jockey Jose Lezcano and Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott credited
Royal Delta for relaxing in the early stages of the race.
“Last time she was a
little rank, she fought with the bit,” said Lezcano. “But today, I
let her break and run the first quarter, and after that I took a little hold
and she got very relaxed. I asked her at the quarter pole and took her out, and
she gave me a big kick. She really took off.”
The TVG Coaching Club American Oaks had been Royal Delta’s first
start since a victory in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan in May at Pimlico, after
which she missed the Grade 1 Mother Goose in June at Belmont Park
with a bruised foot.
“I think she needed it [TVG Coaching
Club American Oaks] in a lot of ways, not just conditioning, but also
mentally,” said Mott, who won the 2005 Alabama with Sweet Symphony. “She was
a little fresh in that race, and we tried to sit in behind; further [back].
Today the plan was to lay closer and let her find her stride, and she was able
to do that. She was really comfortable. Jose did a great job, and she had
plenty left. It’s a matter of her relaxing and conserving energy for the
final run, which she didn’t do the time before.”
Royal Delta’s victory had a tinge of
bittersweetness for Mott as the filly’s owner, Prince Saud bin Khaled,
died in February. Mott also trained Royal Delta’s dam, multiple graded
turf stakes winner Delta Princess, for Khaled, who bred the daughter of Empire
Maker in Kentucky
and raced under the banner of Palides Investments.
“The owner of the horse, who is a
special friend of mine, is not with us today, but I’m sure he is
watching,” said Mott. “We have always thought she was a nice filly,
and she proves us right all the time.”
Mott, who originally considered running
Royal Delta in Sunday’s Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid on the turf,
said the filly is likely to remain on dirt for now.
“This is a very important race
obviously, a Grade 1, and it was our first choice,” said Mott. “We’ve
got those [grass] options down the road. I think she’s a filly that seems
to do anything. She will run over any surface. She has won on the synthetics,
won a Grade 1 on the dirt, and has worked well over the grass. Our options are
always open [with her], but there is nothing like a good old-fashioned dirt
race like the [TVG] Alabama.”
Royal Delta is 4-0-1 from six starts. The
$300,000 winner’s share of the Alabama
purse more than doubled her earnings to $544,600.
It’s Tricky was attempting to become the sixth horse to win the
Grade 1 TVG Acorn, the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks, and TVG Alabama.
“She ran well,” said trainer
Kiaran McLaughlin of It’s Tricky’s performance. “I thought we
ran our race and looked good. The winner probably needed her last race and a
mile and a quarter. But we ran a nice race; no excuse. We couldn’t have
done anything different. We were just second-best.”
Plum Pretty tired to fourth, and she was
followed by St. John’s
River and Inglorious.