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Jul 20, 2012

Royal Delta headlines Del 'Cap


Stanton, DE (Sports Network) - Champion filly Royal Delta tops a field of seven for Saturday's 75th running of the $750,000 Delaware Handicap (Del 'Cap) at Delaware Park. The 1 1/4 mile race is part of the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" program.

Royal Delta, trained by Bill Mott, will be ridden by Mike Smith from the inside post and is the 7-5 morning line favorite. The Eclipse Award winner will be making her first career start at Delaware Park with her trainer seeking his first Del 'Cap victory.

"The distance does not bother me, but I have heard it can be tough to ship into Delaware," Mott said. "The plan is to bring her to Delaware on race day."

Owned by Besilu Stables, the filly has mixed results at 1 1/4 miles. She won last year's Alabama at the distance, but failed in this year's Dubai World Cup when she finished ninth.

Royal Delta began 2012 by finishing second, by eight lengths, in the Sabin at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 25 to fellow Del 'Cap starter Awesome Maria. After her trip overseas, the filly easily won the Fleur de Lis with her own eight length victory on June 16 at Churchill Downs.

"She ran about a second and a half faster than the boys that night. She was very impressive. She did it fairly easy that night," the Hall of Fame jockey said. "She relaxed really well for me and when I asked her to pick it up; she just jumped through the bridle and just drew away."

Last year, Royal Delta had four wins in seven starts, with victories in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, Alabama and Black Eyed Susan Stakes. That resume got her elected 2011 champion three-year-old filly.

"From this time last year, she is more mature and more professional at this stage of the year," Mott said

The filly comes into the Del 'Cap with earnings of better than $1.8 million in 11 career starts and six wins.

Awesome Maria, trained by Todd Pletcher, will start from post six with Ramon Dominguez in the saddle. Owned by E. Paul Robsham Stables, the five-year-old is the 9-5 second choice in the program.

"I thought her last two breezes were exceptional and she is touting us like she is ready to go down there and perform to her capabilities, which she would certainly need to do against a filly the quality of Royal Delta," Pletcher noted from New York.

This year, Awesome Maria has won two of three starts, including a second straight win in the Sabin and Gulfstream's Rampart Stakes as the 1-10 favorite. She got tripped up in the Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park when she was third to It's Tricky as the 3-4 top choice.

Awesome Maria has nine wins in 15 career starts for just over $1 million.

Pletcher, who has won four Delaware Handicaps, also has Love and Pride in the race. Coming off a win in the track's Obeah Handicap last month, the four- year-old is 10-1 in the morning line and will be ridden by Jeremy Rose from the outside post.

Here is the complete field in post position order for the Del 'Cap; Royal Delta, Mike Smith, 7/5; Tiz Miz Sue, Joseph Rocco Jr., 12-1; Cash for Clunkers, Alan Garcia, 8-1; Daring Reality, TBA, 15-1; Pachattack, TBA, 6-1; Awesome Maria, Ramon Dominguez, 9/5 and Love and Pride, Jeremy Rose, 10-1.

The winner of the Del 'Cap earns an automatic place in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic at Santa Anita in November.

Last year's Del 'Cap was won in stirring fashion by Blind Luck. The filly caught arch rival, and 2011 Horse of the Year, Havre de Grace at the wire to win by a nose.

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