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Royal Delta Refuses to Lose in Delaware Handicap

royal delta
Royal Delta dug in to notch a gutsy victory over long shot Tiz Miz Sue in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park on Saturday.

Besilu Stable’s Royal Delta, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic last year, earned her spot in the same race this year as the filly and mare summer classic is a “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race.  The Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic will be run at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 2.

With Mike Smith aboard, Royal Delta notched a neck victory and returned $3.00 as the favorite in the field of seven.  Tiz Miz Sue, a 28-to-1 shot with Joe Rocco Jr., was second 5 ¾ lengths in front of Awesome Maria, with Ramon Dominguez, in third.

Royal Delta, a Kentucky-bred conditioned by William Mott, covered the mile and a quarter in 2:03.51 over a fast main track.  The 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker improved her record to seven wins from 12 starts with earnings of $2,263,851.

Winning trainer William Mott was impressed with the victory considering everything she had to overcome.

“We had to move early, we had to carry a lot weight and she proved to be the best,” said Mott. “She was game in victory. She did a lot of work around the turn and early in the stretch.  She made the lead a little early, but she got it done.”

He was especially impressed with the victory considering he knew the rest of the field was going to make things as difficult as they could for his filly.

“You know they are going to do that, I suppose going in,” he said.  “It appeared a little extreme.  I mean the horse on the lead packed us six out.  Going into the turn there was room for five horses on the inside.  Fortunately, our mare was good enough to overcome it.  She only won because she is very special.  He (Smith) had to ride a very offensive but defensive race.  I think that was whole thinking when he came into the race.  You know going in they are going to be looking for you and as it turned out they were.  Tiz Miz Sue ran a gallant race.  She ran really good, but we were just a little better today.”

Winning jockey Mike Smith was worried about Tiz Miz Sue and Royal Delta making her first start at Delaware Park.

“She was the horse that I was worried about,” Smith said of Tiz Miz Sue. “Not only is she talented, she was on her home course. She got to me, but my mare just wasn’t going to let her by.  She just kept digging in. She’s extremely talented, and that’s what it takes to win a race like this.  Delaware is a great, great track, but it’s demanding. It’s a good, old-fashioned kind of racetrack, and you need a horse that really takes to it. I was just lucky I was on the mare I rode.”

The local runner, Cresran Stable’s Tiz Miz Sue ran a gallant second but could not get past the stubborn winner.

“My mare ran huge and she tried hard, but we could not get there,” said Rocco.“She was really, really game. The best mare in the country just beat her by a head, so you can’t take anything away from her. My horse was trying as hard as she could, and she just couldn’t get by her.”

The race did not unfold as expected for the Ramon Dominguez aboard Awesome Maria.

“The race set up a lot different then I was expecting,” said Dominguez.  “For one thing I was expecting Cash for Clunkers to go early.  I was fine with that but I was surprised to see the winner taking the lead.  It really left me with a tough decision.  It just did not set up at all for us.  I was happy she finished third, but the race did not set up at all the way I envisioned the race.”

–Delaware Park Publicity contributed to this report.

Royal Delta/Hoofprints Photo (www.hoofprintsinc.com)