Breeders' Cup on far horizon for Ron the Greek, Royal Delta
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott confirmed that Ron the Greek and Royal Delta both will be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita after sweeping the two big races Saturday night on the Stephen Foster program at Churchill Downs.
Ron the Greek, a head winner over odds-on favorite Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster, will have a short break, said Mott, then might have one race before running in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park as his final prep for the $5 million BC Classic on Nov. 3.
“He seems like he's an improving horse and you'd have to say he's one of the top handicap horses in the country,” said Mott. “It was a very good field. I feel proud of our horse that he was able to beat such a good field.”
Ron the Greek and Wise Dan both earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure in the Foster.
Mott also will work backward from the Nov. 2 BC Ladies’ Classic with Royal Delta, who was absolutely sensational in winning the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap a half-hour before the Foster. Royal Delta, the defending champion in the BC Ladies’ Classic, earned a 110 Beyer with her eight-length, geared-down triumph under Mike Smith. Her winning time of 1:49.49 for the 1 1/8 miles was 1.02 seconds faster than what her male counterparts ran in the Foster.
Mott said the Grade 2, $750,000 Delaware Handicap on July 21 at Delaware Park is a possible next start for Royal Delta, the 3-year-old filly champion of 2011.
For Mott, the big night was reminiscent of what he accomplished here last fall in the Breeders’ Cup when he won the Ladies’ Classic with Royal Delta and the BC Classic with Drosselmeyer. Mott, a 58-year-old native of Mobridge, S.D., is the all-time leading trainer in Churchill history with 664 wins, more than 100 ahead of the next trainer on the list, Dale Romans.
Meanwhile, Wise Dan, who was the 4-5 Foster favorite when making his second start of the year after getting a 117 Beyer in winning the Ben Ali in April, “ran very courageously, I thought,” said trainer Charlie Lopresti.
“I’m not disappointed in the least,” said Lopresti. The Whitney and/or Woodward at the upcoming Saratoga meet are likely goals for Wise Dan, he added.
Alternation, never a factor when fifth, had a four-race win streak snapped. Trainer Donnie Von Hemel said he had no apparent excuse for the 4-year-old colt.
“They were just better than us this time,” he said.
Ontrack attendance for the first-ever nighttime Foster was 25,417. Churchill reported that the all-sources handle of $7,960,789 essentially remained even with the comparable Foster Day program of 2011, while the ontrack handle of $1,552,584 was up 60 percent.