While I don’t remember Wayne’s exact reply, it went something like she needs to have "the head of a princess, the butt of a washerwoman and walks like a whore.”
I’m not sure that Bill Mott would answer in the same way today, but I am convinced that he knows exactly what it is that makes Royal Delta so good. The 2011 Eclipse Award-winning Three-Year-Old Filly and champion of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic is regally bred, but the daughter of Empire Maker out of the A.P. Indy mare Delta Princess has more than her pedigree among her considerable assets.
Exactly what she’s got makes Mott, a Hall of Famer and multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer, believe that she can become the first filly to win the $10 Million Dubai World Cup at Meydan on Saturday. Only six females have ever even tried.
Of course, the rest of the racing world ridicules us Americans for making gender distinctions about racehorses and the girls certainly have beaten the guys in some pretty big races of late.
Zenyatta won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Rachel Alexandra took the Preakness and the Woodward, Rags to Riches became the first filly in 102 years and only the third to win the Belmont, Havre de Grace won the Woodward, Goldikova won the Breeders’ Cup Mile in three consecutive years after Miesque did it twice, and of course Winning Colors is only the third filly to ever win the Kentucky Derby.
Those are triumphs indeed. But if Royal Delta, who has earned almost $1.7 million in purses so far, can beat a truly world class bunch of boys in the world’s richest race on a stage of this magnitude, she would not only be in that class, she would go to the head of it.
Royal Delta and Mott, who won the inaugural World Cup with eventual Horse of the Year Cigar, would take over an esteemed place in Thoroughbred racing lore.
“That’s what I was thinking,” Mott said with a laugh to Michele MacDonald after they watched Royal Delta look fabulous in a 1 3/8 mile gallop on Tuesday morning. In fact she looked so good that Michele reported that when the filly schooled at the gate, the crew admired her size and strength.
Everyone notices that the big bay filly with the star on her forehead is drop dead gorgeous. Still, this isn’t a beauty contest, not with tough guys like Game on Dude and So You Think in the field.
“She’s got many things going for her. The one thing we don’t know is whether she is good enough,” Mott explained to MacDonald. “But the distance doesn’t seem to be a factor; she’s won at a mile and a quarter. She’s won a race on a synthetic track. She’s won under the lights and she doesn’t need any medication to speak of. She’s jumped through a lot of the hoops that you have to clear to win here.”
The story of how and why Royal Delta is even with Mott, let alone in Dubai, this year has been often told.
To recap briefly, after owner Saudi Prince Saud bin Kaled passed away last year, she had to be put into the Keeneland November sale following her Breeders’ Cup win as part of the estate’s dispersal. Benjamin Leon, who races under Besilu Stables, put in the winning bid of $8.5 million and sent her back to Mott’s barn.
But Mott has said that he had this race in mind even before he knew she would be his to train again. That’s how much faith he has in her abilities.
Whether she can reward that faith on Saturday night in Meydan remains to be seen. Keep in mind, as David Grening pointed out in the Daily Racing Form, that Royal Delta has a tendency to turn in a really big effort after a just-okay one and she was beaten by eight lengths by Awesome Maria in her seasonal debut in a grade 3 at Gulfstream.
If form holds, it would be rather nice for Mott to have a pair of the golden whips given to the winners. He could use them as bookends in his trophy case.
“It’s a great challenge to try to be the first filly to win it,” he said. “We had the first colt, now we need the first filly.”
I will be watching on Saturday, after wishing and hoping Royal Delta gets a break when the post positions are drawn on Wednesday, and rooting for her to win the Dubai World Cup. Am I guilty of gender bias? You’re damn straight.