Beldame- The Princess Challenges the Queen

Beldame Invitational- Royal Match Race

Royal Delta Ready for Beldame InvitationalThe $400,000 Grade 1 Beldame Invitational on Belmont’s Super Saturday card may not be an actual match race, but many believe it might as well be! The reigning “Queen” Royal Delta will be challenged by the up-and-coming Princess of Sylmar in a battle that’s been highly anticipated all year. With these two powerhouse ladies in the race together, the rest of the field ends up looking like filler. There are only 6 fillies and mares in this race set to run 1 1/8 of a mile. The Beldame Invitational is also a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” event that will give the victor a spot in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff ( a race that champion Royal Delta has won twice already!). Not that big of a deal for the Queen, though. Royal Delta has already won her spot in that race for this year when she won the Delaware Handicap and the Personal Ensign. As far as the Breeders’ Cup goes, she will be cross-entered in the Distaff and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. But for this race, let’s start by taking a look at her Majesty, Royal Delta.

Royal Delta Nears End of Racing Career

Although it’s not official and there is a very slim chance of a 2014 season for Royal Delta, her connections have suggested that the Beldame and the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on November 1st are likely to be Delta’s last before she ends her racing career to start breeding. Not to put the cart before the horse, if you will, but many options have been tossed around as to where she will go after her racing career, including possible breeding match-ups with Europe’s Frankel or Galileo. Fabricio Buffolo, racing manager for Benjamin Leon Jr’s Besilu Stables, had this to say-


“We want to wait until the Breeders’ Cup and then see what the plan will be with her. We know it’s likely she will retire; it’s not 100% but the chances are bigger she will retire. After the Breeders’ Cup, we’ll think more about the stallion.”

This of course makes for a bitter-sweet feeling for me. I’m excited over what babies she may produce in the future, but I hate to see her stop racing. I would be lying if I didn’t say there is a part of me that wants her to win her last two races, including the Beldame Invitational. She has been an almost unstoppable horse this year, despite her 10th place finish in the Dubai World Cup at Meyden and her 2nd place finish in the Fleur de Lis in June. Her last two outings she has romped the field, winning the Delaware Handicap by 10 lengths and the Personal Ensign at Saratoga by 4 ½ lengths. Mike Smith will be onboard for trainer, Bill Mott. It will be tough for any of this field to beat her.

Princess of Sylmar Eying the Crown

Princess of Sylmar to Challenge Royal Delta in BeldameJust as unstoppable as Royal Delta, is 3 year old Princess of Sylmar. This will be the Princess’ first outing against older rivals, but she seems ready for the step-up. Since her maiden win in November of last year (where she won by 19 lengths!) she has only faltered once, running second in the Gazelle at Aqueduct in April. Since then she has won 3 Grade 1 races back-to-back-to-back, including the Kentucky Oaks, the CCA Oaks and the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano, she will be a beast to contend with! The problem she is facing is that Belmont’s track is favoring front-end speed and no horse shows front-end speed like Royal Delta. Princess of Sylmar tends to make a late charge, the same approach that Pletcher says she will stick to in this race. They tried to change up her running style in the Gazelle, but it ended up working against her as she ran 2nd to Close Hatches in that race. Pletcher commented-


“That’s going to be really important that Javier understand that and not take her out of her own style. What we got to hope is the last eighth of a mile, last sixteenth of a mile is that Royal Delta comes back to us a little bit. Obviously, we can be helped by someone showing some initiative early, but if they don’t do it we’ll let our filly run our race and hope for the best.”

It seems like a risky move, hoping that Royal Delta will ease up and allow the Princess to make that charge, but apparently Pletcher feels it’s the only way to go for her. Fortunate for the filly is that there are 2 other front-end runners entered in this race.

Beldame Invitational- The Break Down

CentringAs mentioned before, there are only 2 horses here that will challenge Royal Delta for the early lead. Unfortunately, Lady Cohiba is likely to scratch according to trainer, Christophe Clement. That only leaves Roman Invader to make the challenge, but honestly her speed figures imply that she won’t be able to handle the likes of Royal Delta. Regardless, it might be enough for Roman Invader to at least put a little pressure on Royal Delta and increase the odds of Princess Sylmar to get there. One mare that has been completely overlooked in this race that I feel should be worked into any of your exotic bets (at least) is Centring.  She has been beat by Royal Delta in her last 2 outings and hasn’t won a race since October of last year, but she could make a run for it here. She is capable of putting up a speed figure to contend with both of the powerhouses in this race and her trainer, Thomas Albertrani is racing her with the blinkers on in the Beldame. I’m just speculating here so I could be wrong, but they may try to put Centring on the early lead with Royal Delta. Should this happen, Princess of Sylmar would have a much greater chance of beating the “Queen” or Centring might just upset the field at a hefty price! For the sake of the wager and my instinct to bet against the favorite, I wouldn’t mind it shaking out this way… but I seriously doubt it. I believe it will end up Royal Delta to win, Princess of Sylmar up for 2nd and Centring a close 3rd. Good luck everyone!





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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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