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Breeders' Cup 2017

Royal Delta Returns in the Fleur de Lis

2011 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Royal Delta is back and she’s been looking better than ever. The 4-year-old Empire Maker filly leads a field of 6 fillies and mares on Saturday at Churchill Downs in the $150,000 Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Stakes. When last we saw the impressive daughter of Empire Maker she had made the ambitious pilgrimage to Dubai to take on some of the best thoroughbred colts and geldings in the world in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (gr.1). She ultimately finished 9th in Dubai, struggling to find her best stride on the Meyden All-Weather track and trainer Bill Mott is ready for his filly to remind racing fans why she was voted an Eclipse Award winner last year.
In two starts this year Royal Delta has been unable to make it to the winners circle thus far, but all that could be about to change if her impressive series of works is any indication. In her last four workouts she has posted three straight bullet works and a speedy four furlong move that ranked the 3rd fastest of 87 moves. On May 27th she went five furlongs in :59.48 and then came back in just one week to post another five furlongs in :59.55. Getting one five furlong work in under a minute is notable on its own, but posting two similar works back-to-back tells me this filly is ready to roll. Her last work on Sunday was a four furlong move she completed in an excellent time of :47.45. Mott appears to have his filly loaded and ready to spring on Saturday, and the jockey change from Jose Lezcano to hall of fame rider Mike Smith certainly doesn’t hurt her chances.
The biggest competition to Royal Delta on paper is 2011 Kentucky Oaks runner-up St. John’s River. The Include filly made her first start, since finishing 5th in the Alabama Stakes (gr.1) last year, when she finished second to long shot Juanita, with Plum Pretty third, in the La Troienne Stakes (gr.2) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks day. Being that the La Troienne was her first start in more than 8 months I’m willing to bet she’ll run even better this time out. Her last work came a week ago on Thursday when she breezed four furlongs in :48.80 for trainer Andrew Leggio Jr.
Afleeting Lady also exits the La Troienne Stakes, having finished a distant fifth in that race. She returned to the track 15 days later to capture an allowance race by more than two lengths over fellow Fleur de Lis contestant, It’s Tea Time. She most recently posted a bullet :47.20 four furlong work at Churchill Downs on Sunday. After the power-house duo of Royal Delta and St. John's River she seems like the most logical third choice.
It’s Tea Time has posted two beautiful four furlong moves at Keeneland, both of which stopped the timer at :47.00 flat. She appears to be coming into the Fleur de Lis in great shape, however, you have to go 15 starts back to find her last win which came in the 2010 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid Stakes (gr.3) so it's going to take a monumental step forward to win or even finish ahead of the top two.
Distorted Love and Sterling Madame complete the field. Sterling Madame enters off a strong 12 ½ length victory in the Wild Rose Stakes at Prairie Meadows on May 26th. As impressive as that win was, it was against poor competition and will mostly likely not translate into the same form in the Fleu de Lis. Distorted Love hasn’t won a race since capturing a 1 mile allowance race at Churchill Downs 12 starts back in late May of last year.
This looks like a two horse race between Royal Delta and St. John’s River, and of the two Royal Delta looks poised to run a huge race. I think Bill Mott’s got a winner on his hands and I think we’ll finally see the real 2012 Royal Delta show up on Saturday.


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Older Comments about Royal Delta Returns in the Fleur de Lis...

You're welcome, favorite blog writer :)
  • KyOaksRunner · You're the best Mary...do you want me to get you a Brian A. cap to wear around the track? ;) · 1952 days ago
  • Mary Z. · Yes ! I just found this comment now. · 1894 days ago
Thank you very much Mary...I'm very flattered! :)
I wonder why the change from Jose Lezcano to Mike Smith. I guess they figured it worked for Drosselmeyer why not try it here.
  • Mary Z. · The Gulfstream loss was her first race back this year, she stumbled then rushed to the front, so understandable, but after he DWC ride, you can see why a change was made--no room to fool around at this level coupled w/ the investment in her. She is going for the highest of honors. Her former regular rider was on her when she won big and also when she lost big, in terms of lengths behind. It was just time to try a new jockey and they are going with a HoF rider. · 1953 days ago
I hope we get Royal Delta back in the winner's circle, that's good for racing!
First, I'm so glad Brian Appleton did this write up ! Facts presented in a flattering way, which isn't too hard considering the subject, and you have such an enjoyable to read writing style, Brian A. I love RD's owner's confidence in her. He might have her try the DWC again. Yes, "my" dear Princess Royal Delta is as ready as she can be to win at a track she has loved. Good to see that St.John's River has made it back, and I think she'll improve, too, just that Afleeting Lady could take second over SJR, for the reasons you listed as to why she will improve in her third race back from her close second last fall at CD at this distance. Does anyone ever mention that she is 1/2 to Shackleford? Has Oatsee won a broodmare award yet? She has the returning to training Stephanoatsee, too. But, that's another subject. Go Royal Delta!
Agree with the analysis, Brian ... Royal Delta over St. John's River for a chalky but classy exacta.
  • KyOaksRunner · Royal Delta has the potential to dominate her division I think and those blazing works are just exceptional! I don't think we saw the best of St. John's River last year, so it's going to be exciting to see what so does the rest of this year. · 1953 days ago
  • KyOaksRunner · P.S. This is one of those instances when i love chalk! ;) · 1953 days ago

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