Champion Royal Delta to be bred to leading sire Galileo

Two-time Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta has been retired from racing and is slated to be bred to leading international sire Galileo in 2014, her connections announced in a release Wednesday night.

The 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker amassed a record of 12 wins, six times placed, from 22 starts, earning over $4.8 million. A winner of 10 graded stakes, Royal Delta won six Grade I races, including back-to-back victories in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.  She concluded her career by finishing fourth in this year’s Distaff to champion Beholder.

“I’ve had many great moments in my life but the joy and pleasure that Royal Delta has brought to me and my family is indescribable,” said owner Ben Leon, who purchased Royal Delta for $8.5 million at the 2011 Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale. “She offered us the opportunity to enjoy wonderful places, people and experiences. She was a gift that allowed us many thrilling moments and we will be forever grateful. Retiring her was a tough decision especially given the fact that she looks as good as she does but we believe in doing what’s in her best interest. I would like to give special thanks to her Hall of Fame trainer and my friend Bill Mott who has guided her through such a successful racing career and also to my friend, Mike Smith, her Hall of Fame rider. I am looking forward to our future and the new chapter in her life.”

Royal Delta will be in quarantine at Leon’s Besilu Farm in Ocala, Florida before heading to Coolmore Ireland.

Royal Delta, began her career owned by her breeder, Prince Saud bin Khaled.   Not long after his death in 2011, she captured  won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs and was then offered in Mr. Khaled’s dispersal at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale where Leon purchased her. Leon campaigned the champion for two additional seasons, garnering a second Eclipse championship.

“It’s a credit to Mr. Leon to run her not only after such a big purchase price, but again this year for a second season,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who conditioned Royal Delta through her entire career. “Royal Delta will always have a warm spot in my heart as I trained her grandmother and her mother before her. It was special to get her back after the sale and it meant a great deal to all of us.”

Out of the A.P. Indy mare Delta Princess, Royal Delta did lose four of seven starts this year but earned wins in the Grade I Delaware Handicap and Grade I Personal Ensign before being beaten by Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar in the Grade I Beldame. Royal Delta twice faced males in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, finishing ninth in the 2012 edition of the race and tenth this year.

“She didn’t race exclusively in her back yard, and after both trips to Dubai, she came back to win Grade 1 stakes,” Mott said.

Added jockey Mike Smith, “When she brought her A game she could beat any horse in training.”