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A Date for Delta: Mating Royal Delta

It goes without saying that it takes an exceptional individual to win Eclipse Awards in three successive years. Among fillies and mares, the feat has only been achieved twice, by Zenyatta (2008-10) and Azeri (2002-04), although Susan's Girl was champion 3-year-old filly of 1972 and then champion older mare in 1973 and 1975. Looking back to the pre-Eclipse Award era, we find only Cicada in 1961-63.

So when we note that Royal Delta looks set to join that august group, it gives some perspective on her talent and accomplishments. The 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker has won 12 of 20 starts (12 of 18 on dirt if we take out two fruitless trips to Meydan for the Dubai World Cup, UAE-I), with four seconds and a third (her only off the board finish on dirt coming in the Suncoast Stakes on her 3-year-old debut). She has wrapped up divisional honors in the past two seasons with decisive wins in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I), by 2 1/2 lengths over a field that included her elders in 2011, and by a 1 1/2 lengths over another outstanding champion, My Miss Aurelia, in 2012.

This term, she kicked off with a five-length romp in the Sabin Stakes (gr. III), and after her shot at the World Cup probably suffered a little post-Dubai bounce when second in the Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) back in June. She's returned to her very best since then, however, crushing the field by nearly 11 lengths in the Delaware Handicap (gr. I), then defeating the formidable Authenticity by 4 1/2 lengths eased down for the Personal Ensign Handicap (gr. I). Along the way, Royal Delta also created history when purchased for $8.5 million from Palides Investments (the late Saud bin Khaled) by Besilu Stables (healthcare executive Benjamin Leon Jr.) at the 2011 Keeneland November sale.

The multiple champion also has a distinguished pedigree. She's a daughter of Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner and outstanding sire Empire Maker, and her first three dams—Delta Princess, Lyphard's Delta, and Proud Delta—were all major stakes winners, Proud Delta preceding her great-granddaughter as champion older mare in 1976.

Although we understand that it has not yet been decided for certain, there is a good chance that Royal Delta will begin her stud career in 2014, so we thought that we'd run the supermare through the TrueNicks Key Ancestors program to find "a date for Delta." Perusing the Key Ancestors with Analysis report, one horse that springs out as a natural is Distorted Humor (TrueNicks,SRO) (ironically, it was Distorted Humor's son Funny Cide that beat out Royal Delta's sire, Empire Maker, for the champion 3-year-old title). He is the second highest-ranked stallion by TrueNicks rating behind 2010 champion 2-year-old Uncle Mo (TrueNicks,SRO), and we're going to pass on the unproven horse here, however talented. In addition to being a successful cross for Unbridled line mares, Distorted Humor has also worked well with mares with a similar background to Royal Delta, so well in fact that he qualifies as a Key Ancestor for her in his own right. Distorted Humor, without giving an extreme sprinter/router contrast, also supplies a little bit of "zip" for a mare who appears to stay 10 furlongs well, and from a pedigree pattern standpoint he is a parallel Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer to Empire Maker. (Distorted Humor—Royal Delta TrueNicks Enhanced report)

Key Ancestors with Analysis statistics for Distorted Humor—Royal Delta

War Front (TrueNicks,SRO) is generally thought of as more of a pure sprinter than Distorted Humor, although he did win the 8 1/2-furlong Princelet Stakes by eight lengths as a 3-year-old. His dam could run long, however, and War Front is getting plenty of runners beyond a mile. We recently discussed the potential for inbreeding to Fappiano through similarly-bred sources, and War Front is out of a mare by Fappiano son Rubiano, while Royal Delta is a granddaughter of Unbridled, and War Front already has sired $1.4 million-earner Warning Flag out of a mare by a son of Unbridled. War Front is also a half brother to a graded winner by A.P. Indy, the broodmare sire of Royal Delta. (War Front—Royal Delta TrueNicks Enhanced report)

Key Ancestors with Analysis statistics for War Front—Royal Delta

On the subject of A.P. Indy: to inbreed or not to inbreed, that is the question. There is a degree of fascination in considering A.P. Indy sons Bernardini (TrueNicks,SRO)—who also gives Fappiano 4x4—or Malibu Moon (TrueNicks,SRO)—who has Orb out of an Unbridled mare. Tapit (TrueNicks,SRO), a grandson of A.P. Indy, takes the inbreeding to that horse back a generation, but he is out of a mare by Unbridled, so that horse would also be 3x3. Overall, we'd tend not to experiment with an unproven mare, especially one of this value, and especially when it will be for her first foal. So, for the moment, we'll pass on those options and maybe hope that another A.P. Indy grandson who is a little more of an outcross will emerge in the future.

If we broaden our search outside of North America, we come up with two candidates who, like Royal Delta, look sure to have their place in history: Galileo and Deep Impact. A Galileo son or daughter would surely need to race in Europe to truly fulfill its potential, as we'd probably be looking at a 12-furlong turf horse. Still, it would be an interesting challenge, and there is certainly a case to be made, as the Sadler's Wells/Unbridled cross has outperformed (admittedly limited) opportunity, and Galileo ranks #6 by Key Ancestor score. He's also a reverse Northern Dancer/Mr. Prospector cross to Empire Maker. (Galileo—Royal Delta TrueNicks Enhanced report)

Key Ancestors with Analysis statistics for Galileo—Royal Delta

Deep Impact doesn't score so highly by Key Ancestor score (-4.28), but he does have group II winner Danon Ballade out of a mare by Unbridled, and he's also had eight stakes winners, seven group, with Lyphard inbreeding, which we also get here. Deep Impact is a grandson of Halo, which does remind us that, although he's not quite at the commercial level for a mare like this, we could see Halo grandson More Than Ready (TrueNicks,SRO) working here. He has a positive Key Ancestor score (+14.12), crosses well with Unbridled and A.P. Indy, and, like Distorted Humor, would add speed without being an out-and-out sprinter. He's certainly a very solid prospect to get a young mare off to a good start, especially if breeding to race. (More Than Ready—Royal Delta TrueNicks Enhanced report)

Key Ancestors with Analysis statistics for More Than Ready—Royal Delta

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Who to mate Royal Delta to? Easy. Mate her to any stallion that also has Olympia in the tail female family. Olympia should be on the Top 5 (6, I guess) Ancestors list in this post. That speed will come through because of Olympia's potency. Any sire out of a daughter of Unbridled's Song or Danzig (Distorted Humor definitely fits the bill), or going more directly to the bottom of the pedigree, a budget sire like Cat Genius comes to mind.

Jared G 06 Sep 2013 12:03 PM

I'd lean toward War Front. It would appear to be a rather good cross for many reasons. Among the less obvious are the Forli/Seattle Slew (albeit back a ways), and First Defence's Dundonnell-First Defence is bred similarly to Royal Delta, and shares somewhat similar physical proportions. I don't mind the Fappiano inbreeding through those sources. I'd also rank War Front over Distorted Humor in sire quality, and see a bit of fall off in Distorted Humor of late. My guess is that they will go with War Front-his numbers indicate that he's the surest path to success of any US based stallion.

sceptre 06 Sep 2013 1:01 PM

Even better yet, if there was a sire out of a daughter of Dynaformer at stud, this would be your best bet for speed without the expense of soundness.

Jared G. 06 Sep 2013 1:23 PM

The owners should keep the first couple breedings US based, as European and Japanese stallions have not exactely proven that their offspring can run in US races.

Rachel J 06 Sep 2013 2:22 PM


Melissa D 06 Sep 2013 2:37 PM

Personally, I would not go to Distorted Humor. He tends NOT to put stamina in the pedigree and tends to shorten up the offspring. Yes he had Funny Cide, but he was not consistent at 1 1/4 miles or longer. One win at 1 1/4 miles does not make you a stamina horse. War Front seems a better pick, but even there I have doubts. I do like the Fappiano inbreeding. My pick would be Street Cry or Giants Causeway. I would even consider a first year stallion in Animal Kingdom. This would provider 5x5x4 to Lyphard. Animal Kingdom is going to be wildly supported when he gets here for the Northern Hemisphere breeding season. A first year stallion and a first year mare. Lightning in a bottle if it hits. He has speed and stamina and with his German breeding on his dam side, should be a nice addition to the stallion ranks of KY.

Southbendfarm 06 Sep 2013 3:01 PM


I disagree about Distorted Humor not being stamina-oriented. Not only Funny Cide, but Flower Alley, Drosselmeyer, Hystericalady, Boisterous, and Fourty Niners Son are all GSW at 10 furlongs or more. He's versatile, yes, but not lacking stamina.

Ian Tapp 06 Sep 2013 3:28 PM

Hi Sceptre,

Interesting comment re Seattle Slew/Forli - I always thought he liked Forli because of some similarities between Round Table and Forli, but I don't think I've ever seen any one else mention it.

I think at a reasonable distance and through some of the connected sources, doubling Fappiano might end up working quite well.

Alan Porter 06 Sep 2013 3:59 PM

Animal Kingdom. It's a throw of the dice but that would be my pick.

Ta Wee 06 Sep 2013 4:54 PM

I think the idea of going to Europe is a sound one. However, I would send her to Dansili first, because of age, then Galileo. I might also consider one or two of the German stallions. We know their grand get race well in America (Animal Kingdom, anyone?) I would also consider Frankel, but I'd rather wait a couple of years to see how his get do. Any chances of getting a season to one of the Queen's stallions? Maybe an Irish stud, since some can be found with minimal relations here.

Christy 06 Sep 2013 6:41 PM

Go east, like in Europe.  The gates of Galileo wait.

larry s 06 Sep 2013 7:00 PM

War Front

garfs29 06 Sep 2013 7:45 PM

I think they should breed her to Include. In my key ancestor analysis I find the key horse in this female family to be Pet Bully, winner of the Woodard Stakes, etc.

He was by a Domino line stallion. With Include you get the toughness of Broad Brush, Ack Ack, and Alsab and know this cross has produced a top tough horse with this female family. You already have size and speed. Plus with the money Leon saves he can take his wife on a Hawaiian vacation.

John from Baltimore 06 Sep 2013 8:34 PM

What about Lohnro? World class - brings in that great sire line of Sir Ivor through Sir Tristram and Zabeel. One more occasion of Mr. P complements her ND further back. He's proven.

What do you think?


Joltman 06 Sep 2013 8:55 PM

You have a mare like Royal Delta, simply go to freshman sire. My pick will be Bodemeister. Speed with stamina on sire Empire Maker. I just love speed, I don't care about nicks, old school breeder.


nokoram sundar 06 Sep 2013 9:01 PM

Really, breed a daughter of Empire Maker to a son of Empire Maker? That is crazy. With the class and breeding and soundness, why would you want to even do that? It is a bad thought and doesn't need to happen. An outcross is better to keep genetics from being too flooded and end up with problems like so many of Unbridled's Song's offspring.

Val 06 Sep 2013 11:14 PM

The Belmont winner Rags to Riches was sent to the court of Galileo but her first foal by him looked very moderate indeed in a Windsor maiden. Although Galileo is enjoying another successful year in Europe it would not surprise me at all if Royal Delta is sent to the best son of Galileo so far, Frankel.

John T 06 Sep 2013 11:50 PM

Hi Alan,

Interesting, your observation about Forli and Round Table. This I never considered. Rather, for me, it was the Lady Juror/Mumtaz Mahal connection as its cause. Forli, in particular, did so well with *Nasrullah-line, and with limited opportunity, quite well with Tudor Melody. In the reverse, Seattle Slew sired one of his best in Swale. Then, perhaps for the same reason, there was the Seattle Slew/Lyphard affinity. All this deduced (rightly or wrongly) through following their stud careers in real time, rather than retrospectively.

sceptre 07 Sep 2013 12:19 AM

Elusive Quality has a number of GSW from the Unbridled cross (only worry is, if I remember correctly he doesn't do well with the AP Indy Line). Plus you would add a little quickness without sacrificing stamina.

Hardlyhatful 07 Sep 2013 1:12 AM

More Than Ready all the way. Galileo is, hands down, better sire than MTR, but the latter will be a better pick for a dirt oriented mare as Royal Delta, without sacrificing stamina and class.

Herminio J 07 Sep 2013 1:40 AM

Distorted Humor is the selection. Why? We need an offspring named Distorted Delta.

Mike in Boise 07 Sep 2013 2:40 AM

Galileo greatest sire almost greatest mare. Breed the best to best hope for the best.

janie boudreaux 07 Sep 2013 8:20 AM

Colonel John seems to me like a good option. I was truly impressed by him during my visit to WinStar Farm. Also some inbreeding with In Reality, will not hurt. Nice looking horse and IMHO is a more refined horse than his dad.

Rosana R 07 Sep 2013 10:10 AM

I would send the mare to Galileo if all things were equal. If you were keeping the mare in the states, I would send her to Medaglio D'Oro to get to Sadler's Wells on the sire side.

steve from st. louis 07 Sep 2013 10:13 AM

I picked Galileo first, but would like to see her bred to More Than Ready. I really like his breeding.

Alex in MA 07 Sep 2013 12:37 PM

What about a Blushing Groom line sire? Lewis Michael's the only one that pops to mind, and I like him because he provides a total outcross to the Northern Dancer all through Royal Delta's pedigree.

Swale1984 07 Sep 2013 12:48 PM

Not to be missed, is the cross with GIANT'S CAUSEWAY. A+ rating, plus a whopping dosage profile total of 38 points (27 of those in the classic profile!!!) Also to note, is the average winning distance of this offspring outcross, which is almost 8.5 furlongs. Same cross that GII winner and GI placed HOLD ME BACK.

GIANTS CAUSEWAY has been the leading sire in North America in 2012, 2010 & 2009. To date, he stands #3 Nationally, and #16 Internationally with earnings of $9 Million (GALILEO is #15 with $9.5 Million).


Plus, with yearlings selling in public auction in 2012 for $750.000 at the Keeneland Sept. Yearling Sale, it for sure an outstanding cross for breeding to race or to sale.

Herminio J 07 Sep 2013 2:18 PM

Herminio J,

Good note on Giant's Causeway, obviously quite a successful sire. His TrueNicks rating is actually B+ with Royal Delta (3 SW from 30 starters out of Unbridled line mares).

Statistically, he's less impressive when you look at the Key Ancestors numbers. Rahy, Storm Cat, and Roberto are all negative with the group of broodmares most closely related to Royal Delta. As good of a sire as he is, based on those stats there would seem to be better options for Royal Delta.

Ian Tapp 07 Sep 2013 4:39 PM

Regards Ian

Its true... its not A+ (don't know where that + came from, maybe I was having too much fun) but neither is B+. Its actually A according to the TrueNicks report I'm reading right now. Plus mine has 4 stakes winners (Hold Me Back, Russian Greek, Clarinet & Bow Bells). Why the difference?

Herminio J 07 Sep 2013 5:38 PM

Herminio J,

You're right, the TrueNicks rating has improved from B+ to A since we ran the Royal Delta report two weeks ago. Bow Bells won her first stakes race on 8/31/2013, which has caused the improvement in the rating. (Interesting that Hold Me Back and Bow Bells are both out of Unbridled's Song mares.)

TrueNicks stats are always updating with the newest racing data. If there's a new Giant's Causeway/Unbridled starter or stakes winner today, the report will update immediately with the new data.

I'm not sure that Bow Bells' SW status makes a Giant's Causeway-Royal Delta mating more attractive, but it's definitely a cross to keep and eye on, particularly with Unbridled's Song mares.

Ian Tapp 07 Sep 2013 6:00 PM

Royal Delta gets an A++ rating with both Discreet Cat and Any Given Saturday both of whom I like very much. If you want to go big bucks though I would say Distorted Humor.

Racingfan 07 Sep 2013 6:02 PM

Thanks Ian for the quick feedback. Love this blog & could be here all day long.

Herminio J 07 Sep 2013 6:16 PM

Mike in Boise- lol!!! I love it! What about Royally Distorted?

Sounds like they may be sending her to Europe. If that's the case, I think she should go to Galileo first since he is a proven stallion and hypothetically nicks well. That way they would be able to see how Frankel stamps his weanlings when they're born. If they decide they like what they see, then they can breed to him the following year. Personally, I'm a huge Giant's Causeway fan, so I would love to see a Royal Giant or a Royal Cause gracing the track!

Bethany L. 07 Sep 2013 10:07 PM

Why not Afleet Alex! Just a thought.

Travis 08 Sep 2013 3:54 AM

A mating I'd like to see for "delta" would be to 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags- best of luck when she goes to be mated- h

harry watnik 08 Sep 2013 5:44 AM

Uhhh... she won't begin her "stud" career because she will be a broodmare.

Sainbury 08 Sep 2013 9:01 AM

Uhhh... "stud career" means breeding career for male or female animals. Look it up.

knowledgeable breeder 08 Sep 2013 10:20 AM

A stud is a farm on which horses are bred, by definition. Any other uses are colloquial.

Honestly, the breeders of this family have optimized Royal Delta family in her - Proud Delta's best foals were by Lyphard, Lyphard's Delta's best foals were by A. P. Indy (or his son Bernardini), and the best foal of the SW sister of Delta Princess was by Kingmambo (Mr. P over No. Dancer, like Empire Maker). You can't just say "Well, the half-sister had a great runner by X, so send her to him" because it's already in there.

So reinforcement is in order. Playing around with the crosses mentioned, I like Colonel John - outcross to 4 generations, but In Reality, Seattle Slew, and Lyphard reinforced behind in the fifth. Is Real Quiet still available? I know he went to PA; he reinforces Fappiano and In Reality nicely.

Oh, and Bastonera II was robbed of her championship - she beat Proud Delta fair and square in the Ladies H, the BC Distaff equivalent of its day. Best in the East met the best in the West and the West won, but the East got the statue.

Pedigree Ann 08 Sep 2013 11:36 AM

Would love to see her join the quality mares in Frankel's book but maybe in a few years. A Quality Road foal from her would be nice.

british 08 Sep 2013 2:43 PM

I'm thinkin Mr Besilu. It would be interesting to see what you get when you breed 12.7 million dollars of your own money in horse flesh together.

John from Baltimore 08 Sep 2013 5:41 PM

Haha. Good one, John.

Ian Tapp 08 Sep 2013 6:08 PM

Maybe go by this old-time breeding tip: Give a stallion back the best of his dam. With that, a stallion with a repeat of Royal Delta's dam line might be a consideration. I would like to see Seattle Slew and Buckpasser somewhere in the candidate stallion's dam's pedigree.

Early Speed 08 Sep 2013 10:44 PM

What say Royal Humor.

Best to The Best, Galileo, but Colonel John is pretty darn good.

Joan 09 Sep 2013 9:39 AM

How 'about Einstein?

Pasadena 09 Sep 2013 10:22 AM

Early speed - I tried to find a stud of the same dam line as Royal Delta and had trouble finding one. The only one I could find who was a good runner himself, was Del Mar Show. But in 6 years he has only produced 16 foals so he has issues. Can anyone else know of one?

Pasadena 09 Sep 2013 10:27 AM

Why not CURLIN????

The Bid 09 Sep 2013 10:30 AM

Smart Strike?????

The Bid 09 Sep 2013 10:35 AM

It might also be true that being a great race mare and being a great broodmare result from different qualities of aptitudes in a mare.

Great broodmares are those who produce many superior runners. Maybe what makes a great broodmare, in some cases, are those who allow the stallions to dominate the gene pool.

Obmar 09 Sep 2013 11:09 AM

Ian.....The horses you listed were proven at 10 Furlongs. Drosslemeyer was probably the best with Flower Alley right there also. But out of almost 1000+ foals, you named 6, and probably the 6 most popular. To be truely noted for siring 10 furlong horses, they offspring have to win more than once or twice. D.H. is not noted for siring stamina, and he is bred to distance mares. His average winning distance is 7.16 furlongs for lifetime, 7.33 for this year, 5.79 for his two year olds and 6.51 for 2 year olds lifetime. Drosselmeyer and Boisterous are 2 of his top earning horses. Remove those two, and his number drop. This info comes from Equineline as of 9/09/2013. Compare him to A.P.Indy, and the distance variations are noticeable. D.H. is not looked upon as putting stamina into a pedigree like A.P.Indy is. The number bear this out. Don't get me wrong....I think D.H. is a fabulous stallion, but breeding him to Royal Delta will not help the foal get 1 1/2 miles. I am not even sure Royal Delta can get 1 1/2 miles. Sending her to Animal Kingdom or Galileo will probably yield a better distance horse than Distorted Humor.

Southbendfarm 09 Sep 2013 1:24 PM


Who said anything about 1 1/2 miles?

If you had Royal Delta and were interested in breeding a horse for the U.S. classic distance of 10 furlongs, then Distorted Humor is your sire.

To pick on one of your stats, I'd submit that Distorted Humor's 5.79f AWD for his 2yo's is more indicative of the fact that they are precocious and classy enough to win early in their careers. An inferior sire's progeny take longer to win, if at all, and there are more maiden routes available to older horses.

Ian Tapp 09 Sep 2013 5:20 PM

giant's causeway is the choice for royal delta

he's one of the best sires in the world and of all time

putting these to together you get as good a pedigree as you can get

michael clifton 09 Sep 2013 9:07 PM

Uncle Mo A++ rating

Denise 09 Sep 2013 10:09 PM

Real Quiet broke his neck and was euthanized a few years ago.

Anglokraut 10 Sep 2013 2:01 AM

What about mating her to Kitten's Joy. Top sire + awesome mare = Royal Kitten!

SuperSaintsFan 10 Sep 2013 8:43 AM

Ian......I quoted 1 1/2 miles because our 3 year olds seem to have a problem getting that distance. I meant it in respect to the Triple Crown and just because you get 1 1/4 miles does not guarantee 1 1/2 miles. I agree with you in that D.H.s two year olds win early and often, but they don't win the distance races that make up our Triple Crown. I gave you Funny Cide and Drosslemeyer, but that does not make D.H. a sire of stamina. Mr Prospector has a Derby and Belmont winner....ONE of each. Yet he is not a source of stamina.

As for inferior sires taking longer to win....maybe. A.P.Indy's offspring are not noted for winning the 5 and 6 furlong 2 year old races. But they do win once the distance gets up to a mile and beyond. That's where Indy's strength as a sire is. D.H.'s strength lessens the farther they go. Yes....he has offspring who can get 2 turns, but 1 1/16th miles is two turns (Belmont excluded).

I am interested in breeding a classic horse, but D.H. will only get me (possibly) up to the 9 and 10 furlong marker, A.P.Indy, Giants Causeway, Street Cry, etc...get me past the 9 and 10 furlongs to the 12 needed to win the Belmont. IF you don't breed to win past 10 furlongs, you won't win past 10 furlongs. D.H.'s physical makeup also comes into play as he is a short back, well muscled horse. Not the lean type that sires distance, stamina oriented horses. D.H. has been at stud long enough for the breeders to know, he isn't going to give you a horse that consistently wins at 10 furlongs in top company. Winning 2 times at 1 1/4 miles after running in 8 races at that distance is not good enough to weigh the statistics in D.H.'s favor.

Southbendfarm 10 Sep 2013 12:47 PM


Stephie Clare 10 Sep 2013 5:34 PM

  It's just "common sense" that Royal Delta should be bred to Distorted Humor.  The odds are against any breeding producing something worthy of Royal Delta  but far more favorable with Distorted Humor than any other Stallion in the Western Hemisphere.  Distorted Humor at this point is on a level by himself.  If the mare goes East she should go to Galileo, period.

jim of G 14 Sep 2013 4:17 PM

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