Royal Delta cruises in Gulfstream prep
Report: USA, Sunday
Gulfstream Park: Sabin Stakes (Grade 3) 1m½f, dirt, 4yo+ f/m
DUBAI World Cup favourite Royal Delta (Bill Mott/Mike Smith) made no mistake this time as she cruised to a dominant victory on her seasonal debut on Sunday against four rivals in the Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream.
Impressive winner of the last two runnings of the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, the five-year-old is a 6-1 chance with British bookmakers for the world's richest race at Meydan on March 30.
Better known as a dirt performer, Royal Delta could finish only ninth on the Tapeta in last year's race, though she met trouble in running.
She was also beaten on her 2012 debut in the Sabin behind top-class Awesome Maria but she was never in any danger this time, outclassing her rivals as she scored by five lengths over All For Thee at odds of 2-5.
"A sigh of relief - I'm glad it's over," said Mott. "I'm happy the way everything went coming in. She came into the race great. She worked well. Obviously we have more to do but it's a great way to start. I've seen horses that were 1-9 and didn't perform that way. It's good to see her continue on the same path."
After a slight bobble at the break, the daughter of Empire Maker took the lead on the backstretch and drew away under Smith to win in a time of 1min 43.31sec.
"I think she was working a little bit better this year," added Mott. "I think she was a little stronger. She's more mature now and filled out better.
"I want to get her there and do as well going into the race as she did last year. If she can do that we'll be in okay shape. We're going to run against some of the best horses in the world. This is not going to be an easy task. It's a tough journey and a very tough race but I think with a good trip she can make a good show of it."
Royal Delta capped a big weekend for Mott, who saddled three winners at Gulfstream on Saturday, including The Very One Stakes winner Starformer and Mac Diarmida Stakes victor Amira's Prince.