Monday, January 22, 2018
Sports

Tampa Bay Downs product Royal Delta wins second straight Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic

ARCADIA, Calif. — She made it look easy. Again.

Royal Delta hit the stretch and not a soul in the grandstands of Santa Anita Park doubted the Tampa Bay Downs graduate was on her way to a second consecutive victory in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic on Friday.

"She's just brilliant," jockey Mike Smith said. "I was always taught when you're on a talented horse, stay out of their way. I felt confident all the way around there."

The win was Smith's 16th in the Breeders' Cup, moving him past Jerry Bailey for most in the event's 29 years.

Royal Delta was the 8-5 favorite in the field of eight fillies and mares, considered one of the deepest fields among the 15 races during the two-day world championships. She ran 1⅛ miles in 1 minute, 48.80 seconds.

She won by 2½ lengths last year with Jose Lezcano aboard.

It was the fifth Ladies' Classic victory for trainer Bill Mott. It also put him in position to sweep the Ladies' Classic and today's Classic in consecutive years. Last year at Churchill Downs, Mott's Drosselmeyer followed Royal Delta into the winners' circle in the event's marquee race. Mott today was scheduled to saddle the contenders Flat Out, Ron the Greek and To Honor and Serve.

Six different jockeys, trainers and owners won each of the races on the card in front of 34,619.

The biggest upset was Calidoscopio's 4¼-length victory in the $500,000 Marathon, jockey Aaron Gryder's first Cup win. The 17-1 shot from Argentina paid $36.40 to win and at 9 became the oldest Cup champion.

Age also played a part in the second-biggest upset. Sent off at 15-1 odds, Hightail got a nose victory in the $500,000 Juvenile Sprint, giving Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas his leading 19th Cup victory at 77.

"At my age it's significant," Lukas said. "I still have the passion for it, and I train every day and ride every day. I'm not going to retire. I'm going to ride out there one morning, fall off the pony. They will harrow me under, and if the harrow goes over me a couple of times, that will be the end of it."

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