x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Royal Delta holds off challenge to claim second victory in Ladies' Classic

Mike Smith entered the record books with the most Breeders Cup wins of all time after partnering Royal Delta to victory at Santa Anita.

Mike Smith celebrates on Royal Delta after victory in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic
Mike Smith celebrates on Royal Delta after victory in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic

Mike Smith became the winning-most Breeders' Cup jockey of all time when partnering Royal Delta to victory in the Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita last night.

Royal Delta was only ninth in the Dubai World Cup in March, but she broke quickly from the gate and made all under Smith. Royal Delta then dug deep to hold off the undefeated My Miss Aurelia to register her second successive success in the fillies' contest.

The win was Smith's fifth in the race, and by taking the $2 million (Dh7.3m) event he leapfrogged Dubai World Cup-winning rider Jerry Bailey to 16 victories.

"It was beautiful," Smith said. "She broke extremely well. She is just brilliant she really is. I thought I'd be close to the front. She's never really broken well. She is a flyer and a half.

"Just to be tied with the great Jerry Bailey. I'm so proud. It's the greatest feeling."

Royal Delta will now stay in training and could possibly be aimed at the Breeders' Cup Classic in order to replicate Zenyatta's thrilling triumph in the $5 million race in 2009.

"I think she has proved to the world she is the best mare on four feet," Benjamin Leon, who bought Royal Delta for $US 8.5 million last year, said.

There was no luck for Godolphin's Questing, who looked to struggle early on and was pulled up by Irad Ortiz. Questing did not appear to suffer any muscle injuries and was being monitored by vets overnight.

Where Questing may still have a career on the racetrack ahead of her, Fame And Glory, part owned by Fitri Hay, has run his last race after the 2011 Ascot Gold Cup winner was also pulled up in the Breeders' Cup marathon.

It was Fame And Glory's first attempt on dirt and trainer Aidan O'Brien revealed his charge hated the experience and would be retired.

"The race was there in the book and we gave it a try. We took a chance and it didn't come off, so he will be retired now," O'Brien said of the six year old.

"He just showed us that he didn't like it and he wanted to go home."

Jamie Spencer, Fame And Glory's jockey added: "I was exactly where I wanted to be in the stretch first time, but then all of a sudden he just didn't want to know."

Fame And Glory's defeat was not the only disappointment of the night for the British and Irish team. The Fugue suffered a terrible passage in the Filly & Mare Turf under William Buick, who was forced to sit on the rail and suffer as Javier Castellano strode to victory aboard Zagora.

The Fugue, owned by theatre impresario Lord Lloyd-Webber, flashed for home once she got a run but could not haul back the winner and Marketing Mix, who was second.

The French provided some cheer for the Europeans when Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani's colours were carried to success by Flotilla, who became the first European winner of the $US1,000,000 Juvenile Fillies' Turf.

Not only was it a landmark victory for the Europeans, but also for jockey Christophe Lemaire and trainer Mikel Delzangles, who both enjoyed their first taste of victory at the two-day meeting.

When asked how he felt about his first Breeders' Cup winner, Lemaire replied: "It is a great pleasure for me. The first time I came to America it was at Santa Anita so I was very happy to win here. Big sunshine, big crowd, good horses; this is great excitement."

If it was a cool ride from Lemaire, who waited until the last moment before releasing he daughter of Mizzen Mast down the centre of the track to deny Watsdachances, it was an impeccable training performance from Delzangles.

The 41-year-old is on his way to Australia to saddle Dunaden to a defence of his Melbourne Cup title for Sheikh Fahad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and the Biarritz-born handler was looking forward to next season with Flotilla.

"I knew she was well and I surprised by how well she travelled here. I hope she will become a Classic filly in Europe next year," he said.

Delzangles had threatened to provide Sheikh Mohammed with a Group 1 victory earlier this season when Hermival was third in the English 2,000 Guineas behind Camelot, but the Qatari prince now boasts a victory at the highest level, having only become involved in the sport in 2008.

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