Royal Delta staked her claim for Horse of the Year honors with a dominating wire to wire victory in the $2,000,000 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) Nov. 2.
The 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker won the Ladies Classic for the second straight year, providing jockey Mike Smith with his 16th victory in the Breeders' Cup.
Breaking sharply out of the gate, Smith let Royal Delta cruise to the front within the first furlong. The expected front-runner, Questing, broke slowly under Irad Ortiz Jr., and trailed the field going into the first turn, and eventually was eased.
Royal Delta galloped along on the front end with her ears pricked, while setting fractions of 22.69 and 45.81 for the first half-mile. Love and Pride raced in second, with My Miss Aurelia in third.
As the field turned for home, Royal Delta was still going along comfortably up front, as Include Me Out and My Miss Aurelia loomed up on her outside. Royal Delta had plenty left in the tank, though, and cruised under the wire in front by 1 1/4 lengths over My Miss Aurelia.
Include Me Out held on for third, another 1 1/4 lengths further back. Final time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:48.80.
Bill Mott (trainer, Royal Delta, 1st) – “Spectacular. She broke sharply and was out on the lead and just ran the race that way. She's a talented mare to be able to run well and win no matter how the race develops. I was a little concerned when they were throwing up those fractions, but she kept going and ran them off their feet.”
Mike Smith (jockey, Royal Delta, 1st) – “I've become the all-time winner at Breeders' Cup (with 16 wins). It's incredible to be with the riders on this list; truly an honor. I hope to be around a few more years to add to it. I really had a lot of confidence in her. She trains the way that she ran. Just amazing.”
Steve Asmussen (trainer, My Miss Aurelia, 2nd) – “I hate that she didn't win, but I just love this filly. She never blinks. I wish she could have won, but it was a beautiful race.”
Corey Nakatani (jockey, My Miss Aurelia, 2nd) – “My filly ran a hell of a race. I wasn't surprised to see Mike (Smith) on the lead. I was in good position the whole way. She gave me everything, and I thought I had a shot there for a while. Congratulations to Bill Mott; he has a great horse. But I was on a great one, too.”
Ron Ellis (trainer, Include Me Out, 3rd) – “I'm very proud of her. She ran an awesome race. She got beat by an absolutely top-notch filly. I'm very happy.”
Joe Talamo (jockey, Include Me Out, 3rd) – “I had to wait a little bit with her on the turn, but otherwise we had a good trip. When she got out at the five-sixteenths, she showed me a great kick. I've got to congratulate her people. She's some mare.”
Anthony Dutrow (trainer, Grace Hall, 4th) – “I think our filly did what she could do. The race went really well for her and I'm happy we were fourth in such a tough race. We beat four really good fillies.”
Javier Castellano (jockey, Grace Hall, 4th) – “I had a good trip. I saw a lot of speed in the race, and I did something different today. I wanted to take back and make one move. Unfortunately, the speed held today. I'm very happy. She gave a great performance.”
Todd Pletcher (trainer, Love and Pride, 5th) – “She was up close most of the way, but always a little bit wide while the winner saved all the ground. I guess it just wasn't her day, but you have to give the winner a lot of credit. She's a very good filly.”
John Velazquez (jockey, Love and Pride, 5th) – “I had a perfect trip, but I had no horse. No excuses.”
Chad Brown (trainer, Awesome Feather, 6th) – “I was never comfortable. In a race like this, a quarter of a mile in, and I'm not comfortable with the way my horse is moving, I'm in trouble.
“Not to make any excuses, she probably didn't care for the surface today. She's much better than that. I can see her getting beat; it's a star-studded field. But she was never really in the race and that's not like her. She's been in every race she's ever been in. She's been there, somewhere up front. The jockey felt the same way. We'll have to regroup.”
Jeffrey Sanchez (jockey, Awesome Feather, 6th) – “She was just never comfortable today. At the three-eighths pole I asked her and she didn't really want to go. She never got into the bit and usually she does.”
Kay Cooper (assistant to trainer Jim Penney, Class Included, 7th) – “We're a little disappointed. She got into trouble in the first turn. The main thing is she came back well.”
Russell Baze (jockey, Class Included, 7th) – “We had a pretty good trip. She had a little trouble in the first turn, but after that we were all clear. We just didn't get the result we wanted.”
Kiaran McLaughlin (trainer, Questing, DNF) – “She's fine. She never was traveling well. She was never in the bridle, so Irad (Ortiz) just pulled her up. She got on the van sound, got off the van sound; she just didn't feel like running today. We'll have her scoped to make sure everything else I OK. We're disappointed, but we had a great year with her.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. (jockey, Questing, DNF) – “She didn't even want to run today. She never tried. I think she'll be OK, she just didn't try.”
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.