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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Another Chance in Dubai for Royal Delta

ROYAL DELTA, ridden by Mike Smith and trained by Bill Mott, wins the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California on November 2, 2012.
They say there are no second chances in life. Just try to tell that to America’s two-time champion mare, Royal Delta. The eight-and-a-half million dollar woman has been there, done that. Her second chance in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic last fall at Santa Anita produced a masterful front-running performance that secured her place in history. Not that the Bill Mott trained miss needed a second chance … she had won the big race the year before at Churchill Downs as well, meaning the five-year-old daughter of Empire Maker is one of only two mares ever to repeat in the championship race. The Dubai World Cup is a bit of a different story for America’s heroine, though. Suffering an absolute nightmare trip in the world’s richest race last year, Royal Delta checked in 9th of 13 under rider Jose Lezcano. There is good reason to believe that things will be different for her this time around.
All reports, as well as photos, from Dubai this week have Royal Delta looking every bit of  those $8.5 million shelled out for her by Besilu Stables after her first Breeders’ Cup win. After another year of maturity, she appears to be even stronger now than this time last year when many gave her a big chance.  Unlike 2012, she arrives to Dubai coming off a stylish win in her seasonable debut. The five length score in the Grade 3 Sabin Stakes was as impressive as it was easy.  This time around she will be ridden by one of the top big race jockeys in the world in Mike Smith. Under Smith, she has learned a new freewheeling style that could fit in very well with the pace scenario in tomorrow’s race. And finally, do not be fooled by last year’s unlucky attempt on the synthetic surface at Meydan Racecourse. She gets over the surface just fine, as most offspring of Empire Maker do, and keep in mind; she was an overpowering winner of her only race on a synthetic surface in the U.S. back as a three-year-old.
While all signs point to a much improved Dubai World Cup run for Royal Delta … for $10 million dollars, you know the race is not coming up easy. Besides American stalwarts, Animal Kingdom and Dullahan, our distaff champion will also face a deep cast of international stakes winners, including Hunter’s Light. The five-year-old son of Dubawi is a second-place finish to Cirrus des Aigles away from being on a huge streak, and has been nothing if not impressive in his two wins this year in Dubai. If Royal Delta can indeed handle her accomplished competition tomorrow, she will be bucking more than one trend to do so.
Despite being the dominant nation back when the World Cup was run on dirt, Americans have not fared well at all since the shift to Meydan and their all-weather Tapeta racing surface, having failed to finish in the money in any of the three runnings. While American luck has run dry in recent years, girl power has never been a factor in the United Arab Emirates, with no female horse visiting the winner’s circle in 17 editions.
What does all this mean for America’s favorite female? She’s in with a shot, but it won’t be easy. Since dominating her competition in her 2010 debut, Royal Delta has continued to improve ever since, to the point of unquestionably being one of the finest horses in the United States. The 1 ¼ mile distance of the World Cup should not be a problem for her, nor do I think the surface will be either. 
Seeing Royal Delta and Mike Smith on the early lead tomorrow would come as no surprise, and provided it is a sensible pace, as expected, any horse that wants to pass her will most assuredly have their work cut out for them. As an unapologetic supporter of racing in the United States, nothing would make me happier than seeing Royal Delta make amends in the desert.
Above photo courtesy of the Dubai Racing Club 


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Older Comments about Another Chance in Dubai for Royal Delta...

The termporal shrinkage is what gets me...ONLY in the last 25 years counts.
No Mary it doesn't. I used to answer those comments, but now that I have matured, I ignore them. Eventually they go away.
deargodalmightgeeziz, does it ever stop?
Zenyatta is unequivocally the greatest filly or mare to ever set foot on a North American racetrack. Ruffian is second (...and then there is all the rest).
Turfy, you did say, "After some early bumping, she got a fair enough trip in the race last year, but when it came to the business end of the race she was going backwards." If that's how you saw it, then I don't know who could change your mind, no problem, but you did leave out any reference to Transcend. I can't guarantee a win for Royal Delta, which I'd love to see, but I doubt her connections would go through the steps involved in sending her back to Dubai, with all that entails, if they didn't believe she had a great shot at winning and her trainer stated that the decision to return was made after last year's race because they knew she could have greatly improved her position, if not for the horse stopping in front of her, not to mention obviously they thought a better ride, as her then regular jockey was replaced. I do read all of your international stakes very detailed comments, and thank you for providing that info. Just that you did leave out that bit about Royal Delta's '12 DWC race trip.
Among fillies & mares they come no classier than Royal Delta, and she has arguably the best trainer in America in Bill Mott to guide her. But since I am betting on the Dubai World Cup I also have to be objective, and the fact remains Royal Delta's probably 10lbs. better on conventional dirt than she is on synthetic surfaces. If the race were still being run on conventional dirt at Nad Al Sheba there'd be no other horse in the field I would consider backing, but it's not. After some early bumping, she got a fair enough trip in the race last year, but when it came to the business end of the race she was going backwards. 2 of the last 3 running's of the Dubai World Cup have been dominated by horses who show up at the carnival early and run well on tapeta. The 1 that wasn't was dominated by the Japanese contingent. It's hard to overlook that Hunter's Light has never been beaten in his career in stakes race on a synthetic surface. He's a perfect 4 for 4 with wins in the listed Churchill Stakes at 10f on Lingfield's all-weather track in Great Britain, the G2 Anatolia Trophy at 10f on polytrack in Turkey, G2 Al Maktoum Challenge Rd. 2 at 9-1/2f on tapeta in Dubai, and the G1 Al Maktoum Challenge Rd. 3 at 10f on tapeta in Dubai. Overlooking that fact would be handicapping with your heart instead of your head. Given he's drawn perfectly in PP #4, it's hard for me to see past Hunter's Light being right there with a chance to win the race. I also can't and won't entirely dismiss Kassiano's chances either. He got another horrible draw, but he overcame breaking from PP #13 in the Al Maktoum Challenge Rd. 3 to pass them all but Hunter's Light. He's also been amazing on tapeta at this year's Carnival. For my money, given his versatility on all surfaces, Animal Kingdom has the best chance of winning the race among the American contingent.
No, she has a lovely neck. How has she lost definition? I don't see that, cocoa.
She did.
lovely article:) and i agree she looks fabulous, neck and all!
No, she did not.
Lost definition of neck
Agreed kaitlinefree1, exquisite, always comes to mind.
i watched a video on Bloodhorse of her working in Dubai, & she looks AMAZING.
Thanks Brian, because I want to see her run in NY and in BC '13.
In response to Matt's wish ... just look how well she did after coming home from Dubai last year... no ill effects whatsoever.
Yes, as well as the fact it was a distaff. Good humor
Didn't the lack of an exposed sheath give you a clue?
AmbitiousD, before I saw her in the paddock I thought she was a stallion and I couldn't figure it out!
We had a nag here that went from the Longacres MIle to the Vosburg....Any logical handicapper kenw that was folly, but I talked to the rider "I am not going to interfere with some ones dream." At least some horses get the CHANCE to be great while other connections just hide.
Its hard to define "perfect conformation" as it is completely subjective to the individual. But, when I saw Royal Delta up close at last year's Breeders' Cup, I just smiled and said "Now that is what is a race horse is supposed to look like." She looks the part, and is certainly talented enough to win this race. I really hope she can find the winner's circle tomorrow. Best of luck and a safe trip for all runners.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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