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Feb 23, 2012

Royal Delta set for Sabin


Hallandale Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Champion filly Royal Delta is ready to make her 2012 debut in Saturday's $100,000 Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The four-year-old will face four challengers in the 1 1/6-mile race.

Royal Delta, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, will once again have Jose Lezcano in the saddle and the pair will break from post two. Eclipse Award winner Bill Mott trains for Besilu Stables.

The filly is using the Sabin as a prep race for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 31 versus males.

"This is what it's all about," said Mott. "I'd like to see a good, solid effort in this race so we can look forward to Dubai. "She's doing really well. She's had a bit of a rest but her recent works have been good. She's showed she is willing to go long, willing to work, and she looks good doing it."

In 2011, Royal Delta won the Black-Eyed Susan and Alabama Stakes and was second to Havre de Grace in the Beldame. She's earned $1,694,600 in eight career starts with five wins.

"I think we're at a slight disadvantage at a mile-and-a-sixteenth," Mott noted. "It's a short wire turning for home and I don't think it plays into our filly's style. I don't think that's her best race, she's a bit of a stretch runner. I don't think the conditions are the most ideal but we're running in the race that's available."

Joining last year's champion three-year-old filly is Awesome Maria, winner of last year's Sabin. The five-year-old mare, trained by Todd Pletcher, has drawn to the outside of Royal Delta and will be ridden by her regular jockey John Velazquez.

"She's training exceptionally well," said Pletcher. "We've been a little frustrated because she's been ready to run for a little while. We tried to get her in an allowance race about a month ago which we didn't get to go. We've kind of landed in a difficult situation running off a long layoff in a tough race, but she's trained very well, she likes this track, so we're optimistic. She's a top class filly at a mile-and-a-sixteenth and so we'll hope for the best."

Owned by Paul Robsham, Awesome Maria is making her first start since June of last year when she won the Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park. Before being sidelined with an injury, she was perfect in all four 2011 starts, including the Sabin. The gray mare has earned $842,375 with seven wins in 12 career starts.

Here is the complete field in post position order: Ghostly Darkness, Rajiv Maragh; Royal Delta, Jose Lezcano; Awesome Maria, John Velazquez; Groupie Doll, Calvin Borel and Canadian Mistress, Elvis Trujillo.

Post-time for the Sabin is set for 3:50 p.m. (et).

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