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Submitted by Gasper Moschera on Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Breeders’ Cup Distaff: Royal Delta faces upstarts Princess of Sylmar, Beholder

A six-runner Distaff is the smallest field of Breeders’ Cup 2013, but the race brings large appeal. Once again, the $2 million race for fillies and mares will be among the most anticipated races of the season.

It is becoming fall tradition – champion Royal Delta the horse to beat in the Distaff. A year ago, she dusted outstanding 3-year-old My Miss Aurelia. The newest upstarts are Princess of Sylmar and Beholder. They both are 3, and both are very good.

Royal Delta, Princess of Sylmar, and Beholder rank on top of the half-dozen fillies and mares pre-entered for the top race on Breeders’ Cup Friday, Nov. 1. The Distaff will be race 10 of 11, post time 4:35 Pacific.

Royal Delta, tabbed the 2-1 early favorite by Daily Racing Form, would join Goldikova as a three-time BC winner. Goldikova won the Mile in consecutive years, 2008 to 2010. Royal Delta won the Ladies’ Classic/Distaff in 2011 at Churchill Downs and in 2012 at Santa Anita.

Royal Delta will be tested by a pair of outstanding 3-year-old fillies.

Princess of Sylmar already has defeated Royal Delta; Beholder is undefeated around two turns at Santa Anita. The other pre-entrants are Authenticity, Close Hatches and longshot Street Girl.

Princess of Sylmar upset Royal Delta on Sept. 28 in the Beldame at Belmont Park. It was sixth win in seven starts this year by Princess of Sylmar. Though billed as her season finale, she came out of it so well that trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Ed Stanco will extend her campaign.

Stanco paid a $100,000 fee to make Princess of Sylmar eligible to the Breeders’ Cup. It also gives two rivals a chance to settle a score with her. Royal Delta was defeated by Princess of Sylmar in the Beldame; Beholder was defeated by Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks.

Royal Delta posted back-to-back bullet drills for trainer Bill Mott following her second-place finish in the Beldame. Royal Delta will ensure there will be a reasonable pace in the race. She and Beholder are the primary Distaff front-runners.

Beholder, 4 for 4 in Santa Anita routes including the 2012 BC Juvenile Fillies, will meet Princess of Sylmar for the first time since the Kentucky Oaks. Beholder recently scored two big wins, including the Zenyatta Stakes on Sept. 28 against older. Beholder has thrived in recent works for trainer Richard Mandella.

Authenticity finished second in the Zenyatta, her first start in California and third runner-up finish in a Grade 1. She is trained by Pletcher, who shipped her early to California for a race over the track and to avoid Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar in the Beldame.

Authenticity was compromised by a slow start and slow pace in the Zenyatta. Since then, she has trained impressively at Santa Anita.

Close Hatches, the only horse this year to defeat Princess of Sylmar, missed the summer after getting sick following a June 22 romp in the Mother Goose. Close Hatches returned Sept. 21 at Parx Racing to win the Cotillion for 3-year-old fillies. She also is trained by Mott.

Street Girl, third-place finisher in the Cotillion, is the longest shot in the field.

Royal Delta will have regular rider Mike Smith aboard. Close Hatches is reunited with Joel Rosario. Princess of Sylmar’s jockey is Javier Castellano. Authenticity is reunited with John Velazquez. Beholder’s rider is Gary Stevens. Street Girl’s jockey is unconfirmed.

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