By Jon Forbes | 11/03/2010 03:34 PM ET
Her mother might have been a three-time graded stakes winner on the grass, but don’t tell that to Royal Delta, who has joined the New York Watch by virtue of her dominant first-out score on the dirt October 30 at Belmont Park.
Unhurried in seventh through a moderate half-mile of 47.67, Royal Delta waited behind traffic with five-sixteenths left, swung to the outside to launch her stretch run, and overpowered her opponents to win by 12 widening lengths under Jose Lezcano’s snug restraint. The final time for one mile was 1:37.77, with the winner, who returned $16.40 for a $2 win wager, running the final quarter mile in 24.20.
Hall of Famer Bill Mott – who also trained Royal Delta’s dam, Delta Princess, for owner Saud bin Khaled – believed the juvenile would take to the dirt, but nonetheless was astonished by the power of her performance.
“The reason for entering her on dirt was that she had trained well enough to warrant giving it a try,” said Mott. “She had been outworking her company. It was no surprise that she won; however, you never expect any of them to win like that ... it just doesn’t happen very often.”
Royal Delta is the second foal from Delta Princess, who won six turf stakes – including Grade 3 triumphs in the Beaugay Handicap, Mint Julep Handicap, and Locust Grove –and earned $740,918. Indy Five Hundred, a full-sister to Delta Princess, captured the 2003 Grade 1 Garden City Handicap, also on the grass.
“Delta Princess was a smallish-to-medium sized filly who was quite a handful to be around, whether it was training or saddling,” said Mott. “Royal Delta is a big, good-looking filly with quite a bit of substance and a very good mind. Her mother did have quality.”
Royal Delta’s sire, 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, has sired five Grade 1 winners to date, with one, 2009 Personal Ensign heroine Icon Project, having captured a Grade 1 on the dirt. Other notable dirt performers for Empire Maker are Battle Plan, victorious in the 2010 Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap and second in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster, and Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan winner Acting Happy, who later finished third in this year’s Grade 1 Betfair TVG Coaching Club American Oaks and Grade 1 Betfair TVG Alabama.
Many of the industry’s brightest stars embarked upon their careers at the NYRA tracks, including a number of recent Triple Crown race winners. Super Saver, Big Brown, Jazil, Birdstone, Funny Cide, and Empire Maker are all among the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes victors that kick-started their careers at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, or Saratoga. The list also features recent champions Gio Ponti and Indian Blessing; brilliant fillies Flashing, Little Belle, Music Note, and Devil May Care; Quality Road, triumphant in the 2010 Metropolitan Handicap and Woodward; and Afleet Express, winner of this year’s Travers.
Members of the New York Watch honor roll include Champagne winner Uncle Mo, Three Chimneys Hopeful victor Boys at Tosconova, and Breeders’ Futurity hero J. B.’s Thunder. Other graded stakes winners on the New York Watch list are Eightyfiveinafifty, Position Limit, and Winter Memories.