Royal Delta has a championship and a jaw-dropping $8.5 million price tag.
The quirky It’s Tricky has gritty Grade I form while Questing, My Miss Aurelia and Awesome Feather all have had moments of brilliance that left those who witnessed them agape in wonderment.
While he doesn’t dispute the aforementioned represent some of the best distaffers in the game, trainer Ron Ellis would appreciate it if his multiple Grade I winning charge Include Me Out was regularly mentioned in the same breath as those – especially since he believes she is capable to toppling them all.
With 11 graded stakes including 10 Grade I contests taking place on both coasts this Saturday, there will be a glorious all-out battle for headlines in the racing community this weekend. Though the latest showdown between reigning 3-year-old filly champion Royal Delta and her multiple Grade I winning foe It’s Tricky in Saturday’s Grade I Beldame Stakes at Belmont already has a chunk of the hype, the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes (formerly known as the Lady’s Secret) at Santa Anita figures to have the female runner Ellis thinks might be the best in the country with Include Me Out.
Since first dipping her toe into Grade I company last December when she finished fifth in the La Brea Stakes, Include Me Out has barely put a hoof wrong during the 2012 season. The four-year-old daughter of Include has won four graded stakes in five starts this year, including the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes last time out and the Grade I Santa Margarita over the Santa Anita main track in March, with her lone loss being a runner-up finish in the Grade I Vanity Handicap in June.
Still, when the talk turns to how deep a race this year’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic figures to be, Ellis bristles at what he feels is a lack of respect for a filly who is a proven top performer over this year’s host track.
“To tell you the truth, I’ve been a little insulted by the lack of respect my filly has gotten,” Ellis said during a national teleconference on Tuesday. “She’s proven she’s the best filly on the West Coast but I understand the East Coast bias and the press building up those other fillies. But my filly loves that track and she’s done everything we’ve asked of her this year.”
Owned by Jay Em Ess Stables, Include Me Out opened her year with a 4 1/4 length score in the Grade II La Canada Stakes and has defeated such Grade I winners as Star Billing, Switch, Zazu, and Love Theway Youare during her campaign. The dark bay filly is 3-for-5 over the Santa Anita surface heading into Saturday, though her off-the-pace style has proven just as effective over synthetic surfaces as it is on dirt.
The last time the Breeders’ Cup was in Santa Anita, California-based horses ended up winning four of the World Championship races. West Coast representatives also ruled this year’s Triple Crown races – headed of course by dual classic winner I’ll Have Another – leading Ellis to again contemplate why it has been so challenging to get some respect floated their way.
“Usually when they hook our California horses, reality sets in,” Ellis said. “It just feels like we’re not getting as much credit.”