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Oct 26, 2012

Up the Backstretch: Royal Delta will find tough going in Breeders' Cup

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

(Sports Network) - Despite some of the best fillies and mares to ever set foot on a racetrack, there has been just one repeat winner of the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, once known as the Distaff.

Bayakoa became the lone two-time champion of the premier race for females in the World Championships when she posted consecutive victories in 1989-90. Spain won in 2000, but finished second the following year to Unbridled Elaine while Life's Magic (1985) and Lady's Secret (1986) won the race a year after each finished as the runner-up.

This year, 4-year-old filly Royal Delta will attempt to join Bayakoa as the only back-to-back winners of the Ladies' Classic. Trained by Bill Mott, Royal Delta will face a relatively small but solid field of contenders in the 1 1/8- mile race at Santa Anita on Friday, Nov. 2.

The Eclipse Award winner is coming off a 9 1/2-length win in the Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 29, which should make her an overwhelming favorite for the Ladies' Classic. Last year she went off as the 2-1 top pick in a nine-horse field.

Joining her in the concluding race for the first day of the Breeders' Cup will be Love and Pride, the 4-year-old who beat Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga just one month after losing to the reigning Ladies' Classic champ in the Delaware Handicap.

Love and Pride has the advantage of winning at Santa Anita in September when going wire-to-wire in the Zenyatta Stakes. The filly has won two straight and three of her last four starts.

The last two Juvenile Fillies winners, My Miss Aurelia and Awesome Feather, put their respective undefeated records on the line versus Royal Delta.

My Miss Aurelia, unbeaten in six lifetime races, makes her third start this year and posted a win in the Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing on Sept, 22. Awesome Feather is perfect in 10 career starts, but has just four races since winning the 2010 Juvenile Fillies.

Alabama Stakes winner Questing and fellow 3-year-old Grace Hall each take on older females for the first time in the Ladies' Classic. Grace Hall won the Indiana Oaks in her last start, while Questing lost a stretch duel to My Miss Aurelia in the Cotillion.

Taking on older fillies and mares for a second straight time is In Lingerie, winner of the Spinster at Keeneland. The 3-year-old did not start as a 2-year- old and has won four of seven starts this year.

A couple of sisters, Class Included and Include Me Out, round out the field of the Ladies' Classic.

Class Included is a 4-year-old who has been racing at Emerald Downs in Seattle and Hastings Park in British Columbia. Include Me Out, also sired by Include, won early this year at Santa Anita in the Santa Margarita and La Canada, and was third in the Zenyatta behind Love and Pride.

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