· Royal Delta, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s record-tying fourth winner in the Ladies’ Classic (formerly Distaff), rested comfortably in her stall Saturday in Barn 19 at Churchill Downs, but she’ll be on the move pretty quickly after the biggest race of her young career.
Palides Investments’ 3yo daughter of Empire Maker is heading for Tuesday’s Keeneland Sale as part of the dispersal of the estate of the late Prince Saud bin Khaled, and may well be bidding farewell to Mott and his staff for good.
“It’s always tough to lose one like her,” Mott said Saturday morning. “We’d love to have her, but I guess that’s up to whoever buys her. I’d love to have her back. She’s been a really good one.”
Royal Delta joined previous Mott Ladies’ Classic winners Unrivaled Belle (2010) and back-to-back winners Ajina (1997) and Escena (1998). The four victories tie Mott with D. Wayne Lukas, who dominated the race in the late 1980s. It also gave him seven career Breeders’ Cup victories heading into Saturday’s races.
Mott brought Royal Delta to Churchill Downs nearly a month ago following her second-place finish to Havre de Grace in the Oct. 1 Beldame at Belmont Park. The move proved beneficial.
“We’ve been here about four weeks,” Mott said. “We got dug in here (early) to try and get the job done. She ran a tremendous race. The way she was training on this track, we expected a good performance from her. My staff and everybody around her have done a tremendous job.”
The victory was Royal Delta’s fourth in seven starts this season to go along with a second and a third, likely enough to earn her the Eclipse Award for Champion 3yo filly. She won the Alabama at Saratoga and the Black Eyed Susan at Pimlico against her own age along the way.
Trainer Bill Kaplan complained of a sore throat from cheering on Musical Romance to victory in the Sentient Jet Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs.
“It’s a dream come true and the pinnacle of what you can do in this business. I’m just thankful to have a filly like her,” said Kaplan, who reported that the 4yo daughter of Concorde’s Tune came out of her 20-1 upset in fine order.
“She runs on anything, short or long, on turf, synthetic, dirt, slop,” said the 64-year-old native of Brooklyn, N.Y., who owns 50 percent of his Breeders’ Cup champion and supplemented her to the race for $100,000, plus $30,000 in entry fees.
“She’s beaten some of the best horses in the nation, so hopefully they’ll consider us seriously for an Eclipse Award, which I believe she deserves. She’s a remarkable horse; very, very durable to run 13, 14 races in a year in top company and to be 100 percent sound. She’s easy on herself.”
Kaplan had high praise for the job jockey Juan Leyva has done with Musical Romance this year.
“Juan Leyva and her have something special going,” Kaplan said. “He’s been able to get nine perfect trips with her, doing everything perfect with her.
“She was waiting for him at the three-eighths pole; he had a ton of horse. He was sitting chilling waiting for the right spot. Juan knows it’s a long stretch. The filly has an explosive run, but a short explosive run. When you ask her, you’ve got about 200 yards before she flattens out, because she pours it out when you ask her. So he had to wait and wait for a seam, and he always seems to find one.”
Kaplan reported that the Florida-bred Musical Romance will return to his Calder Race Course stable Sunday and is tentatively scheduled to return to action in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita in January.
Trainer Steve Asmussen reported that his Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner My Miss Aurelia came out of her victory in good fashion and will depart for California in December.
“I'm very proud of her. I thought she ran a great race. It worked out as well as we could have hoped. She got jostled a little the first turn, relaxed beautifully, Corey (jockey Nakatani) gave her a great trip, and she ran exceptionally well,” said Asmussen, who picked up his second Breeders’ Cup victory, having previously won the 2007 Classic with Horse of the Year Curlin.
“She came (out of the race) absolutely super. She’ll go to California Dec. 1 with the Stonestreet horses.”
Trainer Wayne Catalano continues to excel with 2yo fillies in Breeders’ Cup races, winning his third Championship race with the freshman set when Stephanie’s Kitten won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. His previous wins were in the 2006 Juvenile Fillies with Dreaming of Anna and in the 2008 edition of that same race with She Be Wild.
“She came back super. It's a great feeling to win my third Breeders' Cup race,” Catalano said. “It’s great to win for the Ramsey family. They are great for the game. They enjoy it all so much. The filly ran a great race. Everything ended up the way you hoped it would. (Jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) gave her a great ride.
“My staff has been unbelievable all year long. I can't say enough about my help. The plan is probably to take her to Gulfstream next. She has her entire future in front of her. You never know where they can take you.”
· Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported all was well with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Secret Circle Saturday morning.
“Out of all the Breeders’ Cup horses, he was my ‘lock,’ ” Baffert said. “He’s very good this morning. Everyone is doing fine.”
The undefeated son of Eddington is owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, the same connections who owned 2009 2-year-old champion Lookin at Lucky (who took home honors as 3-year-old champion the following season).
Of his failure to find the winner’s circle with his other Friday contenders, including Plum Pretty who ran fifth in the Ladies’ Classic, Baffert said “that’s racing.
“We’re excited to watch them all run, but sometimes they surprise me,” he said. “The ones that I think are going to run great don’t run so well, and the ones I thought didn’t have a chance jump up and finish. You just never know what’s going to happen.”
Juddmonte Farms’ Announce was scratched by the stewards on advice of the track veterinarian minutes before the Filly & Mare Turf after sustaining an injury to her hock.
“She cut her hock yesterday,” Juddmonte Racing Manager Teddy Grimthorpe said. “It was stitched. She was a little sore on it this morning, but there will be no long lasting implications.”
Owner-trainer C.R. Trout reported that homebred Shotgun Gulch, who was scratched at the starting gate for the Sentient Jet Filly & Mare Sprint, “tied up” while warming up before the race Friday and was fine by Saturday morning.
“She tied up, and I’m not sure why,” Trout said. “She’s never done that before, but galloped fine this morning. We’ll get her back to Oklahoma and give her some time off. I’ll have to see if I race her again or breed her. She’s been really good to me.”