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Past the Grandstand

A Royal Showdown: Royal Delta vs. Princess of Sylmar

For quite some time now, she has proven her supremacy amongst the other female Thoroughbreds in the United States, capturing six grade one races – including two editions of the most significant race for her division. Dubbed as the current “Queen of Racing” by many, she has earned that title, dominating the female division as of late. Her name is Royal Delta.

But there is another leading lady proving her brilliance, posing as a threat towards Royal Delta. Once a filly that played the role of underdog, she has now risen to the top of her class, winning three of the most important races in her division, stamping herself as the “princess” of that group. Her name is Princess of Sylmar.

These two royalties will clash on Saturday in the Beldame Invitational Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. Royal Delta will be defending her title, as she captured this race in a breathtaking manner last fall, leaving her rivals 9 ½ lengths behind. Princess of Sylmar, on the other hand, will be aiming to become the first three-year-old to win the race since Imperial Gesture in 2002. Royal Delta played this role in 2011, but was left 8 ¼ lengths behind the leading older female of that year: Havre de Grace.

Does Princess of Sylmar face the same fate as Royal Delta did as a sophomore? Like Royal Delta did two years ago, Princess of Sylmar is coming off a dominant victory in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga. But unlike the three-year-old Royal Delta, Princess of Sylmar enters the Belmont off of three consecutive grade one victories: the Kentucky Oaks, the Coaching Club American Oaks, and the Alabama Stakes.

Princess of Sylmar began this year as an underestimated talent, but has blossomed into the most respected three-year-old filly in the nation. In her five victories this year, she has won by a combined 23 ½ lengths and has only one loss under her belt in 2013. The Beldame will be her first test against older mares, but she has clearly outshone those in her division and appears prepared to advance to greater challenges.

Meanwhile, Royal Delta enters the Beldame off of two consecutive grade one triumphs, which she conquered by a combined 15 ¼ lengths. Prior to these breathtaking victories, Royal Delta did not perform up to par, running poorly in the Dubai World Cup (gr. I) and finishing a distant second in the Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II), but since then, the two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (Distaff) (gr. I) has been untouchable.

The Eclipse Award-winning mare clearly has an affinity for Belmont Park, having won two of her three starts at the Elmont, New York track – one of which, of course, was the 2012 Beldame. A mare who seems to flourish in the fall, Royal Delta has trained well in preparation for defense of her title. This was evident in her final work, a 47.88 half-mile breeze over Belmont’s main track on Monday morning, which ranked as the seventh-fastest of the 69 horses that worked at the same distance that morning.

Both Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar have a solid chance to take home a victory on Saturday, but regardless of which spectacular female crosses the wire first, they each have likely clinched championship honors for their respective divisions. Saturday's Beldame 
merely serves as an exciting event for racing fans to enjoy a showdown between two of the best racehorses in the nation.

Who do you think will win?


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Older Comments about A Royal Showdown: Royal Delta vs. Princess of Sylmar...

Sully i think you r forgetting about Princess of Sylmar
  • Sully · Haven't forgotten her in the least. Just believe RD will prove too much for her. · 1512 days ago
I think pos will be mowing down horses in the stretch and will have to give it her all to reel in the queen. Delta IS beatable so it is not impossible
Absolutely everything is telling me Royal Delta is a lock and single on horizontals. She should have everything her own way but Lady Cohiba may go with her. That is my only concern with singling RD, and why I'm strongly considering Centring as my backup option at what should be a nice price. Even if LC decides to go with RD, I think RD just runs her into submission. Let's just hope Smitty doesn't get in her way again.
I pray we get a finish like the 88 distaff. This could be Personal Ensign vs Winning Colors all over again!.
SOso, i to am a huge fan of the Princess,there is no doubt in my mind that she will show up on Saturday and fire her best shot,But should she lose to Roal Delta,and anyone tries to hold it against her. Then there is something wrong.
This look like an example of the good older horse beating the good younger horse. I believe Royal Delta will win on her way to a third Breeders Cup Distaff.
Not that what you said isn't logical in general, tmallios, but that is not how I saw it.
Mary , agree with you regarding the Fleur de Lis,she was ready to run. When one has a great racehorse of her caliber.You do not ever take a chance and run a short horse.For mares like Royal Delta,there is no such thing as a prep race.They are always ready to fire their A game.I have said it before when we previously discussed.The winner that night ran an incredible race. She was getting i believe 11 lbs from R.D. and she got on a track that was playing huge to inside speed.That was the same night Fort Larned won his race on the front end. Mike Smith on R.D., saw what he was up against,being the true pro that he is,he was not about to abuse R.D. for one race. That is what adds to developing a great horse. Not being afraid to lose a race at the expense of the final goal.
Honestly, I just Hope Princess of Sylmar shows up. She is an incredible filly, and I hope the same fate of loosing to RD doesn't dethrone her as it did MMA last year. She comes into this race looking really good, but she is still a three year old who has had a hard schedule .. desipite making her last race look easy it is going to take it's toll some day, I just hope that that day is not saturday ... The critics/contenders (vultures) are pearched and ready to reap the spoils should she fail.
Royal Delta vs. Princess of Sylamar. My favorite active horse, Palace Malice, faces elders in the Gold Cup. This should be an AWESOME weekend of racing.
I haven't said this before, but Royal Delta ran well for the majority of the '13 DWC, and nice that she helped set it up for Animal Kingdom, rather pace setter-like. I never expected her to wire at 10f on Tapeta. Wished she could have, but no way was that a big disappointment. After all, she went,she belonged, and as far as the crappy finish position, not like she was asked after she was obviously going to be off the board. Now as for the '13 Fleur De Lis, no further comment, because I am in maybe a minority of one as to my opinion, but I will say that she was ready for that race, and ready to win it. The Princess is to be respected, but I think this will be another win for Royal Delta. She can handle a faster pace and the distance and this is her home track.
I've actually been thinking about this particular race for most of the day. Something makes me feel that this could be similar to the 1996 JCGC when Cigar went off at odds of ~1/5, but was beaten by 3y/o Skip Away. I think it will be a royal showdown for sure.
Logic certainly tells me that Royal Delta will win easily, but there is a certain feeling that I have that says the Princess is the real thing and could spring the upset. I'm really excited to be at Belmont on Super Saturday.

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About Mary Cage


Mary with champion Classic Empire

Mary Cage, a 21-year-old avid fan of horse racing, has been around horses all her life, having owned, shown, and judged them for as long as she can remember. She began writing her own horse racing blog, Past the Grandstand, in August 2011 and has since been published in America's Horse, American Racehorse and the Appaloosa Journal, as well as with the websites of The Blood-Horse and The Equine Chronicle. She has also had photos published with Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Daily News. In addition, she works as one of the social media coordinators for the Texas Thoroughbred Association and has interned at WinStar Farm with a marketing focus - with projects involving photography, videography, giving tours, data entry, etc. 

In her personal horse experience, Mary has been around horses all her life and has won several Appaloosa National Champion and Reserve World Champion titles in the show ring. She has also worked as a hotwalker and groom.

Mary has always aspired to have a career with horses and since her love for horse racing began, she has dreamed of pursuing a career in the Thoroughbred racing industry, possibly as a writer/photographer and marketing/communications specialist. She is currently attending the University of North Texas, where she is a journalism major with a concentration in advertising and a minor in marketing. With this blog, she hopes to show readers horse racing through the eyes of a young fan and transport you to some of racing's biggest events through her photos and words.

University of Louisville College of Business Equine Program

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