Thoroughbred Racing

Royal Delta gunning for Personal Ensign Handicap

Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Champion mare Royal Delta will try Sunday to make amends for last year's loss in the $600,000 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga Race Course. The 5-year-old takes on four challengers in the 1 1/8-mile race.

Trained by Bill Mott, Royal Delta finished second in last year's Personal Ensign as the 3-4 favorite, dropping a half-length decision to Love and Pride.

The two-time Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic champ will be ridden Sunday by her regular jockey Mike Smith from post 2. She is owned by Besilu Stables.

Royal Delta has lifetime earnings which total $4,251,126 with 11 wins in 19 starts following a 10 3/4-length victory on July 20 in the Delaware Handicap, her second straight in the race.

"She did it the right way and she is an awesome mare when she finds her right stride and gets her rhythm," said Mott following the Del 'Cap. "She really covers a lot of ground. We were not going to take anything away from her if she broke well and I was hoping she would break well. On paper it looked like she might be the speed in the race and she obviously was."

Prior to the Del 'Cap, she had a second-place finish as the 3-10 favorite in the Fleur de Lis on June 15 at Churchill Downs, which was her first start since finishing 10th in the Dubai World Cup on March 30. In her first race of the year, Royal Delta posted a five-length victory in the Sabin at Gulfstream Park.

The 5-year-old won the Eclipse Award as champion older female of 2012 after claining the 2011 Eclipse as champion 3-year-old filly.

Among Royal Delta's main challengers Sunday will be Apple Blossom Handicap winner On Fire Baby and Authenticity, winner of the Shuvee Handicap on July 20 at Saratoga.

The Personal Ensign is a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event which gives the winning horse an automatic spot in the Breeders' Cup Distaff on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.

Here is the full field for the Personal Ensign in post position order: On Fire Baby, Joe Johnson; Royal Delta, Mike Smith; Open Water, Jose Ortiz; Centring, Javier Castellano and Authenticity, John Velazquez.

Post-time for the Personal Ensign has been set for 5:50 p.m. (ET).

08/22 15:14:38 ET