Two-time USA Eclipse Award mare Royal Delta has been retired by her owner Benjamin Leon.
The five-year-old daughter of Empire Maker bowed out with a fading fourth while going for a hat-trick of Breeders’ Cup victories in the G1 BC Distaff on November 1.
Royal Delta will be bred to Galileo at Coolmore Stud in Ireland. She will shortly enter quarantine at Leon’s Besilu Farm in Florida after a career that garnered $4.81 million from 12 wins in 22 starts.
“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,” Leon stated. “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 my friends Bill Mott and Mike Smith. I am looking forward to the new chapter in her life.”
Royal Delta was campaigned by breeder Palides Investments through her first Breeders’ Cup in the 2011 Ladies’ Classic. She then sold for a sale-topping $8.50 million to Leon at the 2011 Keeneland November Sale.
“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,” Mott said. “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.”
“Royal Delta was so talented,” added Smith, who guided the star filly in her past 12 races. “When she brought her A game she could beat any horse in training.”
Royal Delta remained with Mott throughout her career, taking her maiden debut by 12 lengths in 2010 before going on at three to capture the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes , Alabama Stakes and BC Ladies’ Classic in 2011.
Returning in 2012, she posted 4 wins in 7 starts and her only unplaced run being when travelling to the Dubai World Cup. Once arriving back Stateside and getting a slight break, she would romp home in the Fleur de Lis Hcp and Delaware Hcp before a 9 length triumph in the Beldame Hcp.
She followed up with a repeat victory in the Ladies’ Classic to join the great Hall of Fame mare Bayakoa as the only two-time winner of that race.
Royal Delta mapped out a similar plan this year winning the Sabin Stakes by 5 lengths, the Del Cap by 10 lengths and the Personal Ensign by 4 lengths before new star Beholder signalled a changing of the guard in the BC Distaff.
The Kentucky-bred Royal Delta descends from a black-type rich family as a daughter of A P Indy mare Delta Princess who captured six stakes races. Second dam Lyphard’s Delta was a G2 winner and foaled G1 winners Biondetti and Indy Five Hundred.