Royal Delta shines on day of upsets

Fri Nov 2, 2012 11:14pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

ARCADIA, California (Reuters) - The 2012 Breeders' Cup opened its $25.5 million two-day program on Friday with a command performance by Royal Delta, a string of upsets and a record 16th win for veteran jockey Mike Smith.

Royal Delta lived up to her billing as the top female horse in the United States by retaining her title in the $2 million Ladies' Classic in stunning fashion at a sun-drenched Santa Anita Park.

With Smith on board, the Kentucky-bred filly took control of the race by the first turn and easily fended off late bursts by My Miss Aurelia and Include Me Out down the stretch.

The previously unbeaten My Miss Aurelia finished one-and-a-half lengths back with Include Me Out in third, a further one-and-a-quarter lengths adrift.

Smith, 47, was elated after pulling ahead of fellow Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey with his 16th career win at the Breeders' Cup, which is billed as the world championship of thoroughbred racing.

"It's incredible to be with the riders on this list," Smith smiled. "It's truly an honor. I hope to be around a few more years to add to it."

Royal Delta, an overwhelming 8-5 favorite when she entered the starting gate, was the only fancied horse to win on Friday on a six-race card.

Other winners in front of a Santa Anita crowd of just over 34,000 were: Zagora in the Filly and Mare Turf; Beholder, who upset favorite Executiveprivilege in the Juvenile Fillies; and Calidoscopio in the Marathon.   Continued...

Mike Smith celebrates atop Royal Delta as he becomes the all-time winningest Breeders' Cup jockey after his victory in the running of the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic thoroughbred horse race at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, November 2, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok