Royal Delta has passed away following complications from foaling in a touch of sad news. The nine-year-old mare had been retired since 2013 and had never successfully mated or produced an offspring despite an $8.5 million acquisition price by Besilu Stables in 2011. She was one of the greatest female champions the sport has known, and was a two-time Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic winner (the race is now known as the Distaff).
In 22 career starts, Royal Delta earned a record of 12-5-1 overall with winnings of over $4.5 million. She is one of only two horses, along with Bayakoa (1989, 1990) to win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in back-to-back performances. Beholder joins Royal Delta and Bayakoa as the only other competitor to win the race twice, having done so in 2013 and 2016 prior to her retirement.
Beholder’s win in 2013 was actually the moment where the sport witnessed a passing of the mantle from one, historic female champion to the next. That renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff was the final race for Royal Delta, who finished fourth and would then go on to retire.
Royal Delta was to foal but could never produce any offspring despite the best efforts of Besilu Stables. “It’s a tough loss for everybody and for us,” said Fabricio Buffolo, bloodstock manager for Besilu. “Fortunately she had a filly that survived and is doing well. But those things happen with the foaling and…you can’t do anything. It’s very tough. We tried everything. She went to the clinic but it all happened very quickly. Unfortunately it was just very unlucky.”
Bill Mott was the trainer for Royal Delta for her entire career and will always remember her fondly, as should all of us. “She was just a big, gorgeous, strong filly with an attitude like a colt,” the Hall of Fame trainer quipped. “You weren’t going to make her do something she didn’t want to do. She was just aggressive and tough, but really pretty much in a good way.”
“She kept impressing us at different times in her career,” Mott continued. “There were a couple of races where she literally won off by open lengths and just did it with such ease. She was always a bit special to me, number one, because I trained for her breeder and he was a good friend of mine, and the fact that I had trained her mother (Delta Princess) and also for a short period of time had trained her grandmother (Lyphard’s Delta). When she won the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, I can’t believe I was lucky enough to get her back in the barn after she went through the sale.”