You never know what you’re going to get via email.
Two weeks ago, waiting for the Elkton High football game to start, it was Groupie Doll being pointed to the Cigar Mile. Tonight, just after finishing a slice of pizza (mushroom, tomato and feta) from Tony’s Café after swim practice, it was Royal Delta. Like everybody else, I learned she was being retired and even saw a photo on Twitter of Bill Mott leading her to the van earlier in the day. The email release, like the one about Groupie Doll it came from The Bell Group, spelled out the two-time (soon to be three-time?) champion’s future.
I would have preferred an exclusive, but that’s not how stuff works nowadays. Big news gets emailed, blasted, Tweeted, broadcast to as many people as possible. And that’s OK. I can live with it. Makes me want to check my email frequently.
Royal Delta will be bred to Galileo, a European champion and top Irish stallion. He’s by the great Sadler’s Wells and stands at Coolmore Stud. I’ve been to Coolmore, she’ll love it there. The farm, in Fethard (Co. Tipperary) has the best hedges in the world. Perhaps the best horses in the world too.
Royal Delta is an American racing treasure and will fit right in as a guest of Ireland’s racing elite. The daughter of Empire Maker won a dozen races and earned more than $4.8 million. Racing for her breeder Prince Saud bin Khaled and his estate, Royal Delta was champion 3-year-old filly of 2011. Shortly after winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff that year, she sold at Keeneland November – bringing $8.5 million from Ben Leon.
Somehow, her racing career improved. She won another Distaff, and another championship, last season. This year, she won two Grade 1 stakes and earned more than $1 million.
This summer, after his stable star won the Personal Ensign at Saratoga, Leon called it a privilege to own her. He echoed those thoughts in Wednesday’s statement.
“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. 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.”
The big bay mare was part of the family at Mott’s barn – following her dam Delta Princess through the barn.
“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 Mott in the release. “It was special to get her back after the sale and it meant a great deal to all of us.”
And to everyone else too.
Check out a tribute photo gallery from Tod Marks.