Race of the Week 2017
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Kentucky Oaks Runner

Royal Delta takes on Havre de Grace

Havre de Grace is one very special filly. For years the status quo was challenged by only the greedy, the foolish or the very gifted. Fillies rarely contested the nation’s toughest and most prestigious open company races against males, unless the male contingent came up very weak, or the filly was something exceptional. Havre de Grace proved to be the exception in her last start when she easily dominated a field of seven males to win the Woodward Stakes (gr.1) by 1 ¼ lengths, placing herself squarely in the discussion for Horse of the Year. In five starts this year Havre de Grace has won four starts in decisive fashion while losing just once by a nose. There’s been just one horse that’s had the measure of Havre de Grace from day one, and that’s Blind Luck. It takes a great horse to beat a great horse.
On Saturday, Havre de Grace will go for her third Grade 1 win of the year, when she comes to Belmont Park for the first time in her career, to contest the 72nd Beldame Stakes (gr.1). A short field of five fillies has been entered in the Beldame, including brilliant 3-year-old filly Royal Delta, dual Grade 1 winner Life at Ten and graded stakes winner Satans Quick Chick. The Larry Jones trained Havre de Grace has turned in just two works since her exciting romp against the boys on September 3rd, most recently turning in an easy 1:02.20 five furlong breeze at Delaware Park Monday. Fitness will not be an issue for the 4-year-old Saint Liam filly. She’s conquered everyone except Blind Luck in one of their two meetings this year, so if she’s feeling as good as she’s been feeling since March, there might be no stopping her in the Beldame.

If anyone’s going to stop Havre de Grace, the most logical choice appears to be Royal Delta. The 3-year-old Empire Maker filly last raced on August 20th in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes, winning by more than five lengths over a strong field that included dual Grade 1 winner It’s Tricky, and Kentucky Oaks (gr.1) winner Plum Pretty. It was a breakout performance by any standard, from a filly that has been knocking of the door all year. The Grade 1 Alabama was her second graded stakes score after her dominant Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr.2) win on May 20th. Her last three works have been outstanding, first turning in a bullet four furlong move completed in :47.57, followed up by a flashy :59.36 five furlong breeze. She most recently went four furlongs in :47.50 at Belmont on Monday to signify her readiness. The Beldame will be the first time she returns to Belmont since breaking her maiden at first asking by more than twelve lengths last October. It’s a surface she obviously loves.

Life At Ten will break from post position number one for trainer Todd Pletcher and will be looking for her first win since capturing last year’s Beldame Stakes by two lengths over future Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr.1) winner Unrivaled Belle. The Malibu Moon filly has been in a terrible slump since finishing dead last in the Ladies Classic last year after failing to mount a challenge of any sort, losing all four of her subsequent starts. Most recently Life At Ten finished third, more than 18 lengths behind Blind Luck and Havre de Grace in the Delaware Handicap (gr.2) on July 16th. Her last four works have actually been very good, but sadly, good works have not yet translated into good performances on the track this year for the 5-year-old filly. If she can return to last year’s pre-Breeders’ Cup form, she can mount a serious challenge, if not she’s a toss. Satans Quick Chick and Banker’s Buy complete the field.

[Havre de Grace currently ranks #4 on HRN's Active Horses page, while Royal Delta is a distant #26]

Not surprisingly Havre de Grace had many detractors before capturing the Woodward Stakes, but now she will be a strong favorite to win the Beldame and continue her march towards Horse of the Year and a possible run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 5th. The sophomore filly division this year is full of talented, consistent runners and the greatest among them could very well be Royal Delta. I believe she has the ability to win the Beldame if we see the same incredible turn of foot she displayed in the stretch of the Alabama Stakes when rocketing past It’s Tricky and Plum Pretty. It’s a huge task taking on older fillies, and Havre de Grace is an exceptional older filly, so winning will in no way be an easy task for Royal Delta. She may well need Havre de Grace to lose a step or two in order to win.
Tactically speaking both fillies employ a very similar running style, rating close to the pace up front and launching their moves coming off the turn to bid for the lead. They should be placed close to each other throughout the race and you can bet jockeys Ramon Dominguez and Jose Lezcano will be tracking each other at every stage. The filly that gets the jump first could win the prize, but then again Havre de Grace is a fighter and has never shied away from a head on head duel. Royal Delta is untested in that degree.
Another factor to consider is the difference in speed figures between the two fillies. Havre de Grace earned a huge career best 111 Beyer Speed figure in her win against the males in the Woodward, while Royal Delta earned a 100 career best Beyer for her romp in the Alabama. By the figures alone Royal Delta would have to improve by 11 points to catch her older rival. Can it be done, or will Havre de Grace continue her easy coast dominance with Blind Luck out of the picture?
Visit TVG to find out how you can qualify for the $500,000 Champions' Challenge by picking a winner in at least one Breeders' Cup prep race. 


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Older Comments about Royal Delta takes on Havre de Grace...

Too bad that the only horse with the guts to take HDG on was RD. Both IT and ATM's connections played a big time duck card. ATM had no reason to go out west, not with the distance being so short and the purse being lower. They went west because they didn't want to face HDG, not because of any one turn crap. If the one turn made that huge of a difference you would see BD, JP, TS and a few others in the Vosburgh go to the Kelso. IT I don't think has ever lost at Belmont and is a beast in NY over 9fl. She absolutely slammed RD last time going 9f. Parx has much easier competition so her connections opted there instead. The only reason this field is not as strong as it has been recently is because of the monster racing in it.
@boxersdaddy - She's been training well, but with the exception of finishing ahead of Ask the Moon in the Sky Beauty Stakes in early July, she really hasn't shown much this year. I think she'll need to improve 100% to make a dent in the top two.
satan's quick chick is the sleeper pick in this race. since taking 4th behind zen about a year ago she has been picking it up.
@yukichan - That's for sure, she's extremely tough, especially in a head to head duel, it's going to be a great race to watch.
*should read HDG, Havre de Grace...
HVD! Boy is she a tough competitor who digs so deep for the win .... it will be an exciting race for sure, can't wait!
I agree brian, but I also think Royal Delta is improving by leaps and bounds right now and could run a huge race Saturday...I'm pulling for the upset. :)
Royal Delta is a nice 3yo filly, but Grace at about 80% should be good enough in this one.
Jones was quoted as saying the Woodward victory took more out of Havre de Grace than he thought it would, so I don't think they're going the easy route so much as making sure they get her to the Breeders' Cup Classic as fresh and fit as possible.
Pretty sweet spot for Havre de Grace with her only competition on paper being a 3 year old, kudos to the connections of Ask The Moon for taking the shot when they could have run elsewhere. I hate to do this but this is what happened to Z as it is a grade 1 that has come up light. If you applied the logic that people put on the Z connections Havre de Grace should be in the Gold Cup but once again the trainer does the right thing and puts her in the correct spot. I do not see her getting beat ,her only problem could be a one turn race and the surface, it's called Big Sandy for a reason. That being said Havre de Grace is top notch and should put her younger rival away the last 1/16th
  • CraigBradshaw · grouse......i have to give kudos to you for pointing out the logic that some others on these posts are too blinded by their personal biases to see. · 2306 days ago

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 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mother’s shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you it’s almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 ½ years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owner’s box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenery’s owner’s box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 ½ length win which made me feel like one of the world’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

That’s me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.

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