Female Handicap Division Heating Up

The rivalry between Blind Luck and Havre de Grace might have to wait until November or beyond for its next chapter, but that doesn't mean the female handicap division isn't getting exciting.

On Friday, Bill Mott said that he is considering the Oct. 1 Beldame (gr. I) for star 3-year-old filly Royal Delta, though he won't make any decision for at least a few more days. Mott is also considering the Cotillion (gr. II) at Parx Racing on the same day and the Juddmonte Spinster (gr. I) Oct. 9 on the Keeneland Polytrack.

Larry Jones confirmed on Friday that 4-year-old Havre de Grace, who just defeated males in the Woodward (gr. I), will make her next start in the Beldame, which could set up an exciting showdown between two of the top female horses in the country.

Blind Luck, unraced since narrowly defeating Havre de Grace in the July 16 Delaware Handicap (gr. II), is also under consideration for the Beldame but it is more likely that she will stay in California for the Lady's Secret (gr. I) Oct. 1 at Santa Anita.

Meanwhile, two-time grade I winner It's Tricky is on her way to the Cotillion for Godolphin and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Got all that?

Mott said he would prefer to keep Alabama (gr. I) winner Royal Delta at Belmont for her next race, but isn't crazy about the idea of hooking up with Havre de Grace just yet. However the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion might be too short and the Spinster is on Polytrack. Royal Delta has a win over the Keeneland Polytrack already, but it might not be an ideal place for her to prep for the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, which is on the Churchill Downs dirt. Mott confirmed that the Ladies Classic is the ultimate goal.

"I'll probably do what I usually do and make my decision on gut feeling," Mott said. "The Beldame is a possibility. She would be facing elders for the first time and I don't know if it's the right time to meet Havre de Grace. If we're trying to get to the Breeders' Cup, I want to do it the best way we can. I'm not searching out the toughest spot possible. You know the Breeders' Cup is going to be a war. But I'd still rather have her run at Belmont at nine furlongs than anywhere else.

"All three races are options. I'm going to be open-minded about all of them."

Mott said Royal Delta, who has had two works since the Alabama at Saratoga, was recently sent to Belmont.

Jones said Havre de Grace came out of the Woodward in good shape and will have her first work back soon. He said he and owner Rick Porter will talk about what Breeders' Cup race they will point her toward after the Beldame. But later in the day Porter said at this point he is still leaning toward the BC Classic with Havre de Grace.

"If Tizway wins the Jockey Club Gold Cup, I think we have to go after him in the Classic," Porter said. "On paper there is not a horse that can stay with her. But she has to win the Beldame first and we'll see from there."

McLaughlin said Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks (both gr. I) winner It's Tricky will have her first work since the Alabama on Saturday and will have another breeze the following weekend before the Cotillion. He also said the main goal is the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic.

"I think a mile and sixteenth or a mile is a good distance for her right now," he said. "It's good timing and a good purse ($750,000). The Breeders' Cup is the next step."

Jerry Hollendorfer has not made a decision on Blind Luck's next race yet.

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