Royal Delta: out for revenge against old rival Awesome Maria in Del CapPICTURE: EquiSport Photos/Matt Wooley
Royal Delta and Maria clash again in Del Cap
Preview: USA, Saturday 10.45pm BST (live on ATR)
Delaware Park: Delaware Hcap (Grade 2) 1m2f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m
THE richest race of the weekend features an exciting showdown between reigning Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic winner Royal Delta and Awesome Maria, the filly who slammed her on her seasonal debut.
How the Del Cap does not carry Grade 1 status is anybody's guess given its $750,000 purse and what is usually a top-class field.
This year's race is no exception. Royal Delta (Bill Mott/Mike Smith), sold for $8.5 million to Besilu Stakes after her Breeders' Cup success, regained the winning thread last time out with an eight-length romp in Grade 2 company at Churchill Downs after a troubled trip to Dubai, where she got no luck in running in the World Cup.
However, the four-year-old was unable to land a blow against Awesome Maria (Todd Pletcher/Ramon Dominguez) on her seasonal debut in the Grade 2 Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream in February.
The pair raced at level weights that day, and Awesome Maria gets a handy 3lb on this occasion as she bids to become her trainer's fifth Del Cap winner.
On the downside, a six-race winning streak came to an end last time with a tepid display as odds-on favourite in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont - and Royal Delta promises to be a tougher nut to crack this time around.
"I don't believe Royal Delta ran her best race that day, but she is certainly going to have to bring her 'A' game," commented Mike Smith.
Ogden Phipps runner-up Cash For Clunkers, former British-trained Pachattack and Obeah Stakes one-two Love And Pride and Tiz Miz Sue also feature in a seven-runner field.
Saratoga: TVG Coaching Club American Oaks (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo fillies (10.45pm BST, live on ATR)
Questing (Kiaran McLaughlin/Irad Ortiz), fifth in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies for John Gosden, represents Godolphin in the first Grade 2 of the summer stint at Saratoga.
An easy winner in lesser grade at Belmont (good speed figure), Questing is looking to complete back-to-back successes for the Dubai team in this $300,000 event, which they won in 2011 with It's Tricky, who was also trained by Kiaran McLaughlin.
Rivals are headed by Zo Impressive (Tom Albertrani/Rajiv Maragh) and Disposablepleasure (Todd Pletcher/Rosie Napravnik), who fought out the finish of last month's Mother Goose at Belmont.
Del Mar: Eddie Read Stakes (Grade 1) 1m1f, turf, 3yo+ (11pm BST)
Champion older horse Acclamation (Don Warren/Patrick Valenzuela) bids for his seventh straight victory, all of them in either Grade 1 or Grade 2 company, in a race he won in 2011 before switching to Polytrack to take the Pacific Classic a month later.
The front-running six-year-old comfortably defeated main rival Slim Shadey (Simon Callaghan/Garrett Gomez) on 3lb worse terms on his seasonal debut last month in the Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood.
South American champ Interaction (Ron McAnally/Brice Blanc) won a Hollywood allowance race on his US debut for a trainer who made his name with similar types.
Colonial Downs: Virginia Derby (Grade 2) 1m2f, turf, 3yo (1.38am Sun BST)
Bold front-runner Silver Max (Dale Romans/Robby Albarado), reputedly the top three-year-old turfer in the country, bids to underline his status by completing a six-timer in a hotly contested $600,000 contest.