Royal Delta crowns Bill Mott again at Breeders’ Cup
By Lew Freedman Special to the Sun-Times November 4, 2011 11:26PM
Trainer Bill Mott and jockey Jose Lezcano celebrate in the winner’s circle after Royal Delta prevailed in the Ladies Classic. | Rob Carr~Getty Images
Updated: December 6, 2011 8:29AM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bill Mott has the Breeders’ Cup touch. His Royal Delta defeated a stacked field Friday night to cap the first day of the richest weekend in horse racing with a going-away triumph in the $2 million Ladies Classic.
The veteran trainer collected his seventh win in the 28 years of Cup racing and his second in a row in the featured female event at Churchill Downs.
‘‘I’ve been pretty lucky to get some good ones,’’ said Mott, who called Royal Delta ‘‘pretty special.’’
Kentucky Oaks champ Plum Pretty set the early pace in the nine-horse field for fillies and mares 3 years old and up. Royal Delta took control with a long-striding, powerful stretch run to culminate the 11/8-mile race and win by 2½ lengths over It’s Tricky.
‘‘It was adios,’’ Mott said.
After the sentimental journey, Royal Delta is destined to be sold in a dispersal sale because of the death of her owner, Saudi Prince Saud bin Khaled. This was the last of six Ladies Day races on the $26 million world championships card before 40,677 fans. The event concludes with nine more today.
Two major long shots came in — 27-1 Perfect Shirl in the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf and 20-1 Musical Romance in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint.
Secret Circle, a 2-5 favorite, notched a length victory in the six-furlong, $500,000 Sentient Jet Juvenile Sprint for 2-year-olds. Secret Circle went out in a wicked quarter-mile fraction of 204/5 seconds and hung on as Shumoos closed.
The horse giving trainer Bob Baffert his eighth Breeders’ Cup
title survived a drift very wide on the final sprint, looking unsteady.
‘‘After I saw those fractions, I thought, ‘Oh, boy,’ ” Baffert said. ‘‘I was a little worried about him coming down the lane. He kind of lost focus, but he’s just young.’’
Horse racing genealogy is generally about breeding, but human family ties linked some owners and winners. Stephanie’s Kitten, named for the granddaughter of owner Ken Ramsey, overtook Stopshoppingmaria, named for owner Mike Repole’s wife’s purchasing habits, to capture the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf race for 2-year-olds over a mile.
Ramsey, who turned 76 on Thursday, declared the 1¾-length victory a cool birthday present. Teenaged Stephanie summed up being a namesake winner as ‘‘amazing.’’
In another kinship connection, My Miss Aurelia ran a spirited 11/16-mile race to triumph in the $2 million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies by three lengths. Owner George Bolton named the horse for his mother Aurelia, who worked her way from the grandstand to the winner’s circle on a cane. Bolton called his mom his ‘‘good-luck charm.’’