The marquee event each year at the Breeders’ Cup is usually the $5 million Classic, but this year’s $2 million Ladies’ Classic is setting up to be the highlight of the two-day championship event.
The Bill Mott trained Royal Delta showed on Saturday why she is the leader in the clubhouse in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic Future Odds wagering, listed as the 5-2 early favorite, and those odds were before she trounced the field in Saturday’s Beldame invitational (G1) at Belmont Park.
The victory was her third in four starts since returning from Dubai in March, her lone loss a runner up finish to Love and Pride in the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga on Aug.26.
Love and Pride returned to win the Zenyatta (G1) at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.
The Beldame was supposed to be a showdown between Royal Delta and It’s Tricky, who was third and beaten 1 ½ lengths in the Personal Ensign.
However, It’s Tricky was no match for the winner, and what was billed as a rivalry now certainly looks completely one sided.
The Todd Pletcher trained Love and Pride upset both Royal Delta and It’s Tricky in the Personal Ensign at 10-1, and instead of taking on those two again in the Beldame, she shipped west for the Zenyatta (G1).
She was sent off as the third choice in the race behind the favorite Amani and second choice Include Me Out, but she took advantage of a speed friendly racing strip to take the field gate to wire, winning by 3 ¼ lengths over Joyful Victory, who had made her last start at Ellis Park in the Gardenia (G3) where she ran second.
Include Me Out, who had won the Clement Hirsch (G1) at Del Mar in her previous start had to settle for third, and Amani was fifth.
While Royal Delta may have tapped herself as the betting favorite for the Ladies’ Classic, she is going to have to beat a pair of undefeated fillies to defend her title.
Awesome Feather is undefeated in ten career starts and has made just two starts this year. She won the Sunshine Millions Distaff in January at Gulfstream Park, and won the Nasty Storm Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 20, drawing clear to win by 11 ¼ lengths, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 108.
My Miss Aurelia is undefeated in six career starts. She won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last fall at Churchill Downs to cap off a brilliant juvenile campaign, winning all four starts.
She made her return to the track on Aug. 8 at Saratoga, winning the Mandy’s Gold Stakes going 6 ½ furlongs, winning by three lengths.
She stepped into deeper waters last out in the Cotillion (G1) at Parx Racing, taking on Questing , and she managed to outgame that filly by a hard fought head.
Questing came into the race off wins in the Coaching Club of America Oaks (G1) and the Alabama (G1).
The main Ladies’ Classic contenders have all had their final preps with the exception of the Bob Baffert trained Ellafitz, who makes her final prep on Oct. 6 in the Mari Hulman George Stakes at Hoosier.
The mare has four starts under her belt this year, winning the Paseana Handicap in January and Santa Maria Stakes (G2) in February.
She was fourth in the Santa Margarita Invitational Stakes (G1) in March, and in her last outing on May 19 at BetFair Hollywood Park checked in second in the Marjorie L. Everett Handicap (G2) behind Include Me Out.
Turf ‘n’ Sport Top Five for Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic
1. Royal Delta 5-2
2. Awesome Feather 10-1
3. My Miss Aurelia 15-1
4. Questing 8-1
5. Love and Pride 15-1