Royal Delta: will be partnered by Mike Smith at SaratogaPICTURE: Matt Wooley/EquiSport Photos
Smith flies in for Royal Delta ride at Saratoga
Preview: USA, Sunday 10.50pm BST (live on ATR)
Saratoga: Personal Ensign Invitational (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m
MIKE SMITH forgoes the ride on leading Pacific Classic fancy Game On Dude at Del Mar to partner star mare Royal Delta (Bill Mott) as she bids to atone for last year's shock defeat in the Personal Ensign.
Winner of the last two runnings of the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, Royal Delta endured a stuttering first half of the year when another dismal display in the Dubai World Cup was followed by an odds-on reverse at Churchill Downs.
But she was back to her best in no uncertain fashion last month when she pulverised her rivals with a runaway ten-length victory in the Delaware Handicap, a race she also won in 2012 before the Todd Pletcher-trained Love And Pride beat her by a half-length in the Personal Ensign.
"I'm hoping the last race is an indication of good things to come," said trainer Bill Mott, who again runs Royal Delta without Lasix. "Hopefully she can maintain her form through the end of the year."
Love And Pride was getting 10lb from Royal Delta that day, and the dual champion's chief rival this time around is likely to be front-running Authenticity (Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez), who gets 6lb and represents the same stable as last year's winner.
Authenticity has developed into one of the top females in the nation this season with a string of high-class efforts. She had Centring (Tom Albertrani/Javier Castellano) behind when run down close home in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont, and also beat Apple Blossom victor On Fire Baby (Gary Hartlage/Joe Johnson) in the La Troienne, a Grade 1 in all but name on Kentucky Oaks day.