Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Pedigree of a Champion: Royal Delta

What is the definition of a champion? Well, in horse racing, often a horse that is honored with an Eclipse Award. But to me, a champion is any horse that captures fans’ hearts and imaginations while inspiring them. A champion is no ordinary being. A champion is a hero. A champion is worth going through troubles to see. A champion will light up your eyes and bring a smile to your face. *See footnote
Royal Delta
Photo by Terri Cage

Royal Delta fits each of those definitions. The 2011 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (GI) winner was honored with the Eclipse Award for Champion Three-Year-Old Filly following a sophomore campaign that saw her capture three graded stakes races – two of which were grade ones. Yes, she is a champion by the horse racing definition, but she is also a champion in that she has captured the hearts and imaginations of many racing fans.

It’s easy to see why Royal Delta is so popular with race fans. When she’s on the top of her game she puts on a spectacular show, either displaying her brilliance with dominant victories or showing her grit and determination to prevail. Perhaps her action is not the most attractive, but at a standstill or in the post parade, Royal Delta is a great example of a stunning Thoroughbred.

But what makes her the tremendous Eclipse Award-winning champion she is? Of course, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has quite a bit to do with it, as well as the accomplished jockeys who have ridden her. But her success is, in large part, due to her breeding. Foaled in Kentucky on February 2, 2008, Royal Delta’s bloodlines certainly are royal.

Bred by Palides Investments N.V., Inc., Royal Delta is sired by Empire Maker, who won three grade ones throughout his career, including the Belmont Stakes (GI). In that Belmont, Empire Maker spoiled the Triple Crown bid of Funny Cide, a horse he had finished second to in the Kentucky Derby (GI). Empire Maker has not only produced Royal Delta, but also the grade one-winning Derby runner-ups like himself, Bodemeister and Pioneerof the Nile. The Juddmonte homebred is also the sire of the additional grade one winners Acoma, Country Star, Grace Hall, Icon Project, and Mushka.

Empire Maker is a son of the brilliant racehorse and sire Unbridled, who is a tremendous sire of sires. Other sons of the dual-classic winner that have gone on to be successful stallions include Broken Vow, Grindstone, and, of course, Unbridled’s Song. This is the Mr. Prospector sire line, which has interestingly produced the last four winners of the Ladies’ Classic.

Royal Delta is out of a mare that was quite successful at the track in Delta Princess. The mare, who was actually trained by Bill Mott as well, won three grade three races on the turf. Delta Princess is also the dam of Empire Way, a graded stakes-placed colt. Delta Princess herself is out of a productive broodmare, being a daughter of a mare who also yielded the grade/group one-winning runners Biondetti and Indy Five Hundred, in addition to the sire A.P. Delta. Intriguingly, Royal Delta’s third dam, the multiple grade one-winning Proud Delta, was the Champion Older Mare of 1976.

Why stop there? It must not be ignored that Royal Delta’s broodmare sire is the great A.P. Indy, who is a renowned sire and sire of sires. Yet, he is also a productive damsire, having sired the dams of such grade one winners as Bluegrass Cat, Mr. Sidney, Plum Pretty, Super Saver, and Wait a While. As if his roll of grade one winners produced as a broodmare sire wasn’t impressive enough, A.P. Indy has been among the top twenty-five damsires on the continent for the past six years, peaking at number four last year.

A.P. Indy
Photo by Terri Cage
Notably, the sire of Royal Delta’s second dam is the great Lyphard, a son of Northern Dancer who was the leading sire in not just North America, but France and Great Britain as well. The sire of 115 stakes winners, Lyphard was the broodmare sire of such grade one winners as Hatoof, Passinetti, and Skimming.

Royal Delta has the true makings of a champion. Her pedigree, combined with her charisma, brilliance, and accomplished connections, aid her in being a tremendous racehorse – one that delights fans with her triumphs and appeal. With hopes and dreams attached, we await the rest of this spectacular filly’s racing career and once it is over, we can only hope that her remarkable bloodlines hold up in assisting her in producing more Thoroughbreds like herself.

Royal Delta
Photo by Terri Cage
*Sentences 4-7 from my post “To See a Champion,” dated September 30, 2011

As for Royal Delta, I believe her gritty win in the July 21 Delaware Handicap (GII) was much more impressive than people are giving her credit for. She should not be knocked for the short margin of victory over a mare claimed to be mediocre, as Tiz Miz Sue is not only a classy graded stakes winner, but Royal Delta was carrying TEN more pounds than her. In addition, Royal Delta showed what I view as the most important characteristic in a racehorse: heart.

Remember to like Past the Grandstand on Facebook and follow Past the Grandstand on Twitter! Links can be found on the right side of the blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment