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Royal Delta reigns supremely in Sabin Stakes

Hallandale Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Champion mare Royal Delta made a successful return to the races in Sunday's $100,000 Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old covered the 1 1/16-miles in 1:43.31 on a fast track.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Royal Delta was making her second start in the Sabin after finishing second last year to Awesome Maria. This time Royal Delta was sent off as the 2-5 favorite versus four other females.

Trained by Bill Mott, Royal Delta broke a bit slow from post 4 but quickly joined All for Thee on the lead with 2-1 second choice Grace Hall in third.

Around the first turn All for Thee was along the inside with the favorite next to her on the outside. Early up the backstretch Royal Delta took the lead from All for Thee as Grace Hall continued several lengths back in third.

Around the far turn Royal Delta opened her lead over All for Thee as Smith gave a hand ride on the champion mare. Heading into the stretch the favorite had a clear lead and was never touched by the whip as she cruised to a five- length win over All for Thee.

Grace Hall finished third with One Last Dance fourth and My Pal Chrisy in fifth.

The Sabin win was worth $60,000 as Royal Delta increased her lifetime earnings to $3,763,851. The 5-year-old posted her 10th career victory in 16 starts.

"She's stronger than last year. I think the campaign at 4 was easier than the campaign at 3. She beat older mares in the (2011) Breeders' Cup. I think she was a little tired, a little light (last year)," Mott said. "She's a bigger, stronger filly this year. I think she's grown into her frame a bit more."

Owned by Besilu Stables, the two-time Eclipse Award winner followed last year's Sabin with a disappointing ninth in the Dubai World Cup, a race she is now expected to enter again.

"I think she was a victim of a rough trip over there," Mott said about Dubai. "She went into the race well. It was just that she was a victim of bad racing luck."

Royal Delta followed the World Cup with wins in the Fleur de Lis and Delaware Handicap. After a second-place finish behind Love and Pride in the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga, she won the Beldame at Belmont Park and her second straight Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita.

Subsequently, she was honored as 2012 champion Older Female to go along with her 2011 Eclipse Award as top 3-year-old filly.

Royal Delta returned $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10. All for Thee paid $5.80 and $2.40, and Grace Hall paid $2.10 to show.

02/17 17:56:55 ET

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