Royal Delta, two-time Eclipse Award winner, blew away four challengers Saturday to successfully defend her title in the 76th running of the $750,000 Delaware Handicap (Del 'Cap) at Delaware Park.
Trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Mike Smith, Royal Delta took the lead out of the starting gate and proceeded to easily run away from her rivals to capture her second straight Del 'Cap.
"It is about as easy at it gets," said the Hall of Fame jockey. "Even though it was hotter today then her last start, she was actually cooler today. She brought her "A" game today. She jumped out there, got into stride right away and made every step a winning one. I just cruised around there with her. Everyone expected it and we did what we were supposed to do, so it is just a sigh of relief. I just wanted to make sure I stayed on and crossed the wire. It all went well - very well. This race should really step her forward."
Owned by Besilu Stables, the 5-year-old mare becomes the fifth female to win the 1 1/4-mile race in consecutive years. She joins Nastique (1988-89), Endine (1958-59), Obeah (1969-70) and Blessing Angelica (1971-72). Susan's Girl won in 1973 and 1975.
Royal Delta set an easy pace then burst away from the field up the backstretch to take a seven-length lead. She continued with a sizable advantage around the final turn and went on to post a 10 3/4-length victory over 26-1 longshot She's All In.
Finishing third was 23-1 outsider And Why Not followed by 3-1 second choice Centring and 4-1 third pick Summer Applause. Authenticity was scratched and won the Shuvee Handicap at Saratoga.
The 2-5 favorite won her second Del 'Cap over a fast track in 2:02.04, more than a full second faster than last year.
Royal Delta adds $450,000 to her earnings which now total $4,251,126. Saturday's win was her 11th in 19 lifetime starts.
"She did it the right way and she is an awesome mare when she finds her right stride and gets her rhythm," said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. "She really covers a lot of ground. We were not going to take anything away from her if she broke well and I was hoping she would break well. On paper it looked like she might be the speed in the race and she obviously was."
The champion was coming off a second-place finish as the 3-10 favorite in the Fleur de Lis on June 15 at Churchill Downs in her first start since finishing 10th in the March 30 Dubai World Cup.
"Dubai you have to draw a line through it and the other day she was second," noted Mott, "but she did not bring her "A" race. But she ran well today. She was training great coming into the race. Actually, a little to good if there is such a thing. She was wanting to work a little fast but doing it the right way. We are looking at the Personal Ensign at Saratoga for her next race."
In her first race of the year, Royal Delta posted a five-length victory in the Sabin at Gulfstream Park.
The 5-year-old won the Eclipse Award as champion older female of 2012 after winning her second straight Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic. One year earlier she was champion 3-year-old filly.
Royal Delta returned $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10. She's All In paid $8.00 and $4.40, and And Why Not paid $4.60 to show.