One of the difficult and potentially dangerous decisions in life is what to get your wife for her birthday. A washing machine or ironing board may put you in the proverbial dog house.
Jewelry may or may not do it, depending on too many factors to mention here. Fortunately for Leon Besilu, who purchased Royal Delta at last November's Keenland sale for his wife's birthday, he ended up getting her a gift that keeps on giving.
Royal Delta cemented her status as one of the top fillies in the United States with a hard-fought win in the Grade 2 (G2) Delaware Handicap on July 21. Winner of the Ladies Breeders' Cup Classic in 2011 just four days prior to being sold, Royal Delta earned a trip to the 2012 Ladies Classic as part of the "win and your in" qualifying races that are occurring around the World. She gamely fought off Tiz Miz Sue during the last 1/8 of a mile to win the "Big Cap" by 1/2 length. Second-betting choice Awesome Maria finished 3rd, and Jeremy Rose's mount, Love And Pride, finished 4th in the seven-horse field.
It was a great day of racing at Delaware Park, and this writer and his wife, who have annually attended the last three "Big Caps," strongly suggest that sports fans put it on their calendar for 2013. Delaware Park's saddling area is lovely, admission is free, there is plenty of good seating, there are four Stakes Races run that day, and some of the best trainers and jockeys fly in to compete. It is about a 3.5 hour drive from the Lock Haven area.
Where else can you go and have one on one conversations with Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, or rising star Dale Romans? It was also easy to interact with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who won both the "Big Cap" and a smaller stakes race earlier that day. Smith has won numerous big races, including two of the last three Breeders Cup Classics, including Zenyatta's unforgettable come from behind victory in 2009 (well worth the replay watch on Youtube).
Lentenor, who is ill-fated 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's 1/2 brother, was scheduled to run in a lower level, $50,000 stakes at Delaware Park earlier that day. Instead, he was shipped to Virginia, where he rewarded that change of plans by winning a $100,000 Stakes at Colonial Downs.
On the West Coast, 2011 Champion older male, Acclamation, won his 7th consecutive Graded Stakes, the G1 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar racetrack. Of those seven wins, five are in Grade Ones, which are designed to be the toughest races to win. Acclamation's connections also have plans on competing in one of the prestigious Breeders' Cup races later this year.
Today at Saratoga, two Graded Stakes are on tap. Some of the best fillies and mares will compete in the G1 "Diana" on the turf, and several respectable three year old colts will run in the G2 "Jim Dandy." Both races carry $600,000 purses.
On Sunday, the One Million Dollar G1 Haskell will be run at Monmouth racetrack on the New Jersey shore. Several outstanding three-year-old colts on the Triple Crown trail earlier this year are expected to compete. They include Payntor, who lost the Belmont Stakes in the last few strides; Dullahan, who finished third the Kentucky Derby; and Kentucky Derby starter Gemologist, who suffered his only career loss in the Derby, after winning his first five starts.
Nonios, Handsome Mike, and Stealcase are the other entries in the six-horse field.