Sunday's dominating victory in the Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream Park by champion mare Royal Delta solidified her place in next month's $10 million Dubai World Cup.
The 5-year-old champion posted an easy five-length win in the 1 1/16-mile stakes while comfortably covering the distance in 1:43.31 on a fast track.
"She wasn't the best coming out of the gate, but it was her first start in a while and I was able to stay on. Bill (trainer Bill Mott) said he's going to work with her a lot more in the gate, so I'm sure she'll be better in her next race," said winning jockey Mike Smith. "It's just so exciting to have her back. She's such a special horse and to have her back again is great."
Mott said after the win that Royal Delta will be making her second start in the World Cup on Saturday, March 30, 13 days after leaving South Florida. Last year she was ninth in Dubai following a distant second-place finish in the Sabin behind Awesome Maria.
"I want to get her there and do as well going into the race as she did last year. If she can do that we'll be in OK shape. We're going to run against some of the best horses in the world. This is not going to be an easy task. It's a tough journey and a very tough race," Mott said concerning the World Cup. "We're going to be racing against horses that have been training there since October, November. Some of those horses are already acclimated. I think with a good trip she can make a good show of it."
Owned by Benjamin Leon's Besilu Stables, Royal Delta has won 10 of 16 career starts for $3,763,851. Leon bought the 2012 champion Older Female at sale for $8.5 million two days after her victory in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, a race she won again last year.
"She's amazing. She's so special," said Leon. "She never seems to stop amusing all of us. She makes things like this look so easy when we all know it's not easy. She looks great and more fit than I've ever known her (to be)."