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Submitted by John Conte on Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Champion Royal Delta retired, will be bred to Galileo

Royal Delta, a 10-time graded stakes winner and two-time Eclipse Award champion, has been retired from racing, her connections announced Wednesday.

Later Wednesday, owner Benjamin Leon announced in a press release that Royal Delta would be bred to the European champion Galileo, who stands at Coolmore Stud in Ireland.

Royal Delta will soon begin a period of quarantine at Leon’s Besilu Farms in Ocala, Fla. She was shipped there on Tuesday from Payson Park, where she had been based since her fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Royal Delta, a 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker out of the multiple Grade 3-winning A.P. Indy mare Delta Princess, retires with a record of 12 wins, 5 seconds, and 1 third from 22 starts and career earnings of $4,811,126. She won six Grade 1 races. Two of her Grade 1 wins came in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (since renamed the Distaff).

Royal Delta began her career owned by her breeder, Saud bin Khaled, who died in 2011. Following Royal Delta’s victory in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, she was purchased for $8.5 million at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale by Leon, who, under the moniker Besilu Stables, campaigned her for two seasons, which included two failed attempts in the Dubai World Cup.

At 3, Royal Delta won the Alabama, Black-Eyed Susan, and Ladies’ Classic and was named champion 3-year-old filly. At 4, Royal Delta won the Fleur de Lis, Delaware Handicap, Beldame, and Ladies’ Classic and was named champion older female.

This year, Royal Delta won the Sabin, the Delaware Handicap, and the Personal Ensign to put herself in contention for the Eclipse Award as champion older female. She ended her career with a runner-up finish to Princess of Sylmar in the Beldame and a fourth-place finish to Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Bill Mott trained Royal Delta through her entire career and expressed mixed emotions about her retirement Wednesday.

“It’s one of those things where it was Mr. Leon’s decision,” Mott said Wednesday by phone from Payson Park. “The only thing I could offer was I never retired a horse that looked as good as she does. You could probably lead her over there tomorrow.”

Mott had nominated Royal Delta to the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 30, which is coming up a spectacular race with potentially eight Grade 1 winners, including two-time Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Groupie Doll taking on males.

Leon, in the press release, said it “was a tough decision” to retire Royal Delta, but added he felt it’s “what’s in her best interest.”

“I’ve had many great moments in my life but the joy and pleasure that Royal Delta has brought to me and my family is indescribable,” Leon said. “She offered us the opportunity to enjoy wonderful places, people and experiences. She was a gift that allowed us many thrilling moments and we will be forever grateful.”

Reflecting on Royal Delta’s career, Mott said: “She’s had three championship seasons. She’s a two-time Breeders’ Cup winner, a two-time Eclipse Award winner with a possibility of another one coming her way. Physically, she looks like running as a 6-year-old would not be a problem for her. But everybody thinks she’s done enough.”

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