Morning Line Goes to Dubai - Royal Delta

By Michele MacDonald

      Even in the dim half light between night and morning, there was no mistaking her.

      Royal Delta strode on to the Meydan Racecourse track for the first time on March 24 like the champion she is, thrusting her strong shoulders forward and gazing at the vast grandstand with her eyes bright before surging into a gallop.

Caption: Royal Delta
Photo: Michele MacDonald

     America’s best three-year-old filly of 2011 is about to take on a tough group of seasoned male Group 1 winners from Asia, Europe and Australia in addition to multiple Grade 1 winner Game On Dude. In the process, she will try to become the first female runner to win the world’s richest race, the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-gr. I), just a week from today.

    “She feels great,” said Leana Williford, assistant to trainer Bill Mott, who guided Royal Delta through her gallop.

    “She has a real presence about her,” Willaford added.”She’s a little quirky to ride; occasionally, she likes to get a little strong. She’s just a madam—she wants everything her own way.”

     Mylor Rider, a stable foreman for Mott who is helping care for Royal Delta in Dubai, described her as “very opinionated.

     “She walked off the van (that brought her to Meydan from the airport) and acted like she owned the place,” he said. “She wants things done a particular way, and that’s her way. So, we try to be patient with her and do things with her in her time.”

Caption: Royal Delta
Photo: Michele MacDonald

      Since Royal Delta has never previously faced male runners, it is a great sporting gesture by Besilu Stables owner Benjamin Leon, who paid $8.5-million for Royal Delta at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, to send her to Dubai to run against elite international competition.

     Willaford and Rider noted there are two factors in her favor—the 2000-meter distance (about 1 ¼ miles) is clearly a strong point with Royal Delta after her romp in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I), and she also has proven form over a synthetic surface as she won a race on Keeneland’s Polytrack last April.

     “She looked like she just skipped over (the Meydan surface) this morning,” Rider observed.

     Leon and Mott will be arriving in Dubai over the next several days to witness their champion’s run for history.

     In the meantime, Willaford and Rider will be keeping her happy with her favorite treat, peppermints, and some time outside in the afternoon when she can soak up some of the Dubai sunshine on a leisurely stroll that includes stops for nibbles of alfalfa.

Caption: Royal Delta in Dubai
Photo: Michele MacDonald

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