Odds-on favorite Royal Delta kicked away from her four rivals to register a commanding victory Sunday in the $600,000 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.
Royal Delta, ridden by Mike Smith, took over the lead in the 1 1/8-mile race along the backstretch from pacesetter On Fire Baby. The 1-2 favorite began to open her advantage around the final turn and drove away from the field to avenge last year's defeat.
Trained by Bill Mott, Royal Delta posted a 4 1/2-length victory over Authenticity followed by Centring, On Fire Baby and Open Water. Last year, she lost in the Personal Ensign as the 7-10 favorite, dropping a half-length decision to Love and Pride.
Royal Delta covered the distance in 1:48.34 on a fast track.
"I just was happy I got away good today, and once we did that and she got into her monstrous stride; horses seem to have to take two (strides) to her one," said Hall of Fame jockey. "She's a machine. Down the lane, she got to looking around the track a little bit, so I got after her just a little to keep her going."
Owned by Besilu Stables, Royal Delta adds $360,000 to her earnings. The two- time Eclipse Award winner has lifetime earnings of $4,611,126 with 12 wins in 20 starts.
"When she comes with her 'A' game, that's what you expect," said Mott. "She was just good. She was good last time. Mike said she was strong and felt great."
Smith previously won the Personal Ensign aboard Clear Mandate in 1997. In 1994, Mott saddled Link River to victory.
The mare was coming off a 10 3/4-length victory July 20 in the Delaware Handicap, her second straight in the race. Royal Delta had a second-place finish as the 3-10 favorite in the Fleur de Lis on June 15 at Churchill Downs.
In her first race of the year, Royal Delta posted a five-length victory in the Sabin at Gulfstream Park. On March 30, the mare finished a disappointing 10th in the Dubai World Cup.
The 5-year-old mare won the Eclipse Award as champion older female of 2012 after claiming the 2011 Eclipse as champion 3-year-old filly and has won the last two runnings of the Ladies' Classic.
The Personal Ensign is a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event which gives Royal Delta, as if it mattered, an automatic spot in the Breeders' Cup Distaff on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
Royal Delta returned $3.10, $2.10 and $2.10. Authenticity paid $2.40 and $2.10, and Centring paid $2.80 to show.