Royal Delta targets Personal Ensign

Trainer Bill Mott was understandably in a jovial mood Sunday
morning, roughly 16 hours after Royal Delta dominated
Saturday’s Grade 1 Delaware Handicap by 10 3/4 lengths.

Royal Delta earned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure for her 10
3/4-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 Delaware Handicap.

The win ended a two-race losing streak for the dual champion
mare and was reminiscent of the brilliance she had displayed
previously in her career.

“It was gratifying, but it was also exciting to watch her
run,” Mott said outside his Saratoga barn.
“You’re watching her, and you’re looking back and
seeing what’s going on behind her. It just looked like two
different races.”

Royal Delta returned to Saratoga at about 2 a.m. Sunday from
Delaware. She will point to the Grade 1 Personal Ensign here Aug.
25.

Royal Delta won the Delaware Handicap – her second
straight victory in that race – without the use of the
anti-bleeder medication Lasix. In all of her previous starts in the
United States, Royal Delta had raced on Lasix. She was not
permitted to race on it in Dubai, where she competed in the World
Cup in each of the past two years.

“We wanted to rekindle some controversy over the Lasix
issue,” Mott joked Sunday. “Nobody’s been talking
about it. I thought it would make for some good
conversation.”

When he eventually turned serious, Mott said he felt Lasix
negatively affected Royal Delta at Churchill Downs when she ran
second in the Fleur de Lis Handicap on June 15.

“I think the Lasix had an adverse effect on her at
Churchill last time a little bit, and probably the heat and
humidity made it worse,” Mott said. “She was much
better without it yesterday.”

Mott said Royal Delta probably never needed Lasix to begin with
and probably won’t run on it for the remainder of the
year.

In the Delaware Handicap, Royal Delta went right to the front
under Mike Smith, and after fractions of 24.19 seconds and 47.50
for the half-mile, the race was essentially over. Royal Delta, who
won last year’s Del Cap by a neck over Tiz Miz Sue, earned a
104 Beyer Speed Figure for Saturday’s performance.

Royal Delta improved her record to 11-4-1 from 17 starters and
pushed her career earnings to $4.2 million. She has won nine
stakes, including five Grade 1 races.

When Royal Delta runs in the Personal Ensign, one of her rivals
will be Authenticity, who won Saturday’s Grade 3 Shuvee
Handicap by a length for trainer Todd Pletcher and Satish
Sanan’s Padua Stable. Last year, the Pletcher-trained Love
and Pride upset Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign.

Referring to Royal Delta’s performance in Saturday’s
Delaware Handicap, Pletcher said, “Obviously, if the Royal
Delta who ran yesterday shows up in the Personal Ensign,
we’re all running for second, but we’ll give it a try
anyway.”

Authenticity earned a 96 Beyer for the Shuvee.

The biggest disappointment in the Shuvee was Eblouissante, the
half-sister to champion Zenyatta, who finished last. Eblouissante
acted up in the gate and needed to be backed out before being
reloaded.

On Sunday, trainer John Shirreffs said Eblouissante cracked a
tooth and had some cuts on her stifles from hitting herself in the
gate. Shirreffs gave praise to the assistant starter for
“preventing her from getting underneath the gate, which would
have been tragic.”

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