Reigning female champion Royal Delta will take on four challengers in Sunday's $100,000 Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 1 1/16-mile event is the 5-year-old mare's initial start of 2013.
Trained by Bill Mott, Royal Delta will start from post 4 and again have the riding services of Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. The two have teamed up for the mare's last five races with Royal Delta winning four and placing in another.
Owned by Besilu Stables, the two-time Eclipse Award winner was second in last year's Sabin to Awesome Maria. Royal Delta went on to be ninth in the Dubai World Cup, followed by wins in the Fleur de Lis and Delaware Handicap.
After a second-place finish behind Love and Pride in the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga, she won the Beldame at Belmont Park and her second straight Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita.
Subsequently, she was honored as 2012 champion Older Female to go along with her 2011 Eclipse Award as top 3-year-old filly. Royal Delta starts her 2013 campaign with nine wins in 15 lifetime races for $3,703,851.
The 5-year-old mare will follow the Sabin with a second go-round in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on Saturday, March 30, where she is likely to face 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.
Royal Delta's main competition on Sunday is expected to come from 4-year-old filly Grace Hall. Owned by Alpha Delta Stable, Grace Hall will be ridden by Joel Rosario from post 3.
The filly, trained by Tony Dutrow, was fourth to Royal Delta in the Ladies' Classic in November. Last year at Gulfstream she was second in the Davona Dale and returned to win the Gulfstream Park Oaks.
After taking April off from racing, Grace Hall was third in the Kentucky Oaks but won the Delaware Oaks at her home track Delaware Park. Leading to the Breeders' Cup she was fifth in the Alabama and won the Indiana Oaks.
In 11 career starts the filly has banked just over $1.4 million with six wins.
Here is the field for the Sabin from the rail out: One Last Dance, Javier Castellano; All for Thee, Jose Lezcano; Grace Hall, Joel Rosario; Royal Delta, Mike Smith and My Pal Chrisy, Jesus Castanon.
Post-time for the Sabin is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. ET.