Twitter icon
Facebook icon

Royal Delta

Royal Dekta mayberger.jpg

Royal Delta, Mike Smith up (Bob Mayberger photo)
Royal Delta
Induction Year: 
Palides Investments N.V., Inc.
Saud bin Khaled, Besilu Stables
Bill Mott
Empire Maker
Delta Princess
A.P. Indy
Career Years: 

Tab Wrapper


From the beginning, Royal Delta showed she was something truly special on the racetrack. Making her career debut the day before Halloween in 2010 at Belmont Park, the dark bay or brown daughter of Empire Maker served immediate notice she was a force to be reckoned with. Sent off as the fourth choice in a field of nine at one mile on the main track, Royal Delta flew past her overmatched foes turning for home and romped her way to a devastating 12-length victory. She was a star in the making.


Bred by and initially owned by the late Saud bin Khaled, Royal Delta was put away for the remainder of the year following her maiden win. Each of the next three years, Royal Delta proved to be elite, consistent, and dazzling.


After finishing off the board in her first start as a 3-year-old, Royal Delta won an allowance at Keeneland before earning her first graded stakes victory in the Black-Eyed Susan (Grade 2) at Pimlico. In her initial Grade 1 attempt, she finished third to It’s Tricky in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont. The following month, she turned the tables and defeated It’s Tricky by 5½ lengths with a scintillating performance in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga. Returning to Belmont for the Beldame Stakes, Royal Delta was a distant second to eventual Horse of the Year Havre de Grace in her final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.


Royal Delta cemented her standout status in her first Breeders’ Cup appearance at Churchill Downs. Sent off as the co-favorite with Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty, Royal Delta angled to the outside turning for home and crossed the wire a 2½-length winner with It’s Tricky second and Plum Pretty fading to fifth.


“I thought it (the pace) was a little slow, but I think it is a testament to her ability and her tremendous turn of foot to close on that kind of pace,” said Bill Mott, Royal Delta’s trainer.


Royal Delta made headlines again days after that first Breeders’ Cup victory at the 2011 Keeneland November breeding stock sale as part of the late Saud bin Khaled’s Palides Investments dispersal, selling for $8.5 million to Benjamin Leon’s Besilu Stables. At the time, only Better Than Honour ($14 million) and Ashado ($9 million) had ever been sold for more at auction as a racemare or broodmare prospect. Her new owner announced that Royal Delta would return to the races as a 4-year-old. With three graded stakes wins during her 2011 campaign, Royal Delta was later voted the Eclipse Award for Champion 3-Year-Old Filly.


Royal Delta began her 4-year-old season in 2012 by finishing second in the Grade 3 Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream Park before an off-the-board effort in the Dubai World Cup. Given a rest until the middle of June, Royal Delta returned to her old form in winning the Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill by eight lengths and the Delaware Handicap by a neck. That September, she defeated It’s Tricky in the Beldame by 9½ lengths before heading to California to defend her Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic title at Santa Anita. Facing a field that included six other Grade 1 winners, Royal Delta took command early under Mike Smith and led at every point of call en route to defeating My Miss Aurelia by 1½ lengths. The victory assured Royal Delta the Eclipse Award for Champion Older Mare.


Leon decided to bring Royal Delta back for a final season as a 5-year-old in 2013. Once again, she was among the game’s best, earning a Grade 3 victory in the Sabin early in the year before consecutive Grade 1 wins in the Delaware Handicap and Personal Ensign Handicap during the summer. Royal Delta concluded her career by finishing fourth to Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita. She earned her third Eclipse Award (second for Champion Older Mare) and was retired with a record of 12-5-1 from 22 starts and earnings of $4,811,126.


“She was always special to me, number one, because I trained for her breeder and he was a good friend of mine, and the fact that I had trained her mother (Delta Princess) and also for a short period of time had trained her grandmother (Lyphard’s Delta),” Mott said. “When she won the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, I can’t believe I was lucky enough to get her back in the barn after she went through the sale.


“She was as sound the day she left the racetrack as she was the day she came to the racetrack. She was just a real solid, durable type of horse. It’s very difficult to find that kind. It’s difficult to be lucky enough to get one like that once in a lifetime.”