There was never a moment doubt as the 2012 Filly or Mare Champion, Besilu Stable's Royal Delta easily won her second straight $750,000 Grade I Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park. With Mike Smith aboard, the 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker won by the record-setting margin of 10 ¾-lengths and returned $2.80 which equaled the record for the smallest win payoff in race history. In 1960, Quill won the Delaware Handicap by 9-lengths. Three others returned $2.80. They were Susan's Girl (1975), Optimistic Gal (1976) and Fleet Indian (2006).
She also became only the sixth to win the Delaware Handicap twice. The others were Nastique, who accomplished the feat in 1988 and 1989; Susan's Girl, who won the race in 1973 and 1975; Blessing Angelica, who won the race in 1971 and 1972; Obeah, who won the race in 1968 and 1969; and Endine, who won the race in 1958 and 1959.
She's All In, with Victor Carrasco, finished second. It was another ¾-lengths back to And Why Not, with Joshua Navarro, in third.
Royal Delta broke on top and stayed on top. After a quarter-mile the Kentucky-bred trained by William Mott was in front by 1 ½-lengths, after she ran a half-mile in :47.50 she was in front by 5-lengths, after she ran three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.43 she was in front by 7-lengths, before completing the mile and a quarter ion 2:02.04 over a fast track.
In her previous outing, she finished second in the Grade II Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs on June 15, but she never left room for doubt today.
“It is about as easy at it gets,” said winning rider Mike Smith. “Even though it was hotter today then her last start, she was actually cooler today. She brought her “A” game today. She jumped out there, got into stride right away and made every step a winning one. I just cruised around there with her. Everyone expected it and we did what we were supposed to do, so it is just a sigh of relief. I just wanted to make sure I stayed on and crossed the wire. It all went well – very well. This race should really step her forward.”
Winning trainer William Mott was confident shortly after the start.
“She did it the right way and she is an awesome mare when she finds her right stride and gets her rhythm,” said winning trainer William Mott. “She really covers a lot of ground. We were not going to take anything away from her if she broke well and I was hoping she would break well. On paper it looked like she might be the speed in the race and she obviously was. Dubai you have to draw a line through it and the other day she was second, but she did not bring her “A” race. But she ran well today. She was training great coming into the race. Actually, a little to good if there is such a thing. She was wanting to work a little fast but doing it the right way. We are looking at the Personal Ensign at Saratoga for her next race.”
Royal Delta raised her record to 11 wins from 19 starts with earnings of $4,251,126. Last year, she won the Grade II Delaware Handicap by a neck over Tiz Miz Sue.
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