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Royal Delta keeps Ladies' crown at Breeders' Cup

ARCADIA, California (AFP) –

Jockey Mike Smith rides Royal Delta (C) to victory in the Breeder's Cup Ladies' Classic

Jockey Mike Smith rides Royal Delta (C) to victory in the Breeder’s Cup Ladies’ Classic race at Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, California, on November 2, 2012.

Royal Delta kept her crown, winning the Ladies’ Classic in emphatic style to cap the first day of racing in the two-day, $25 million Breeders’ Cup championships.

The 4-year-old mare helped jockey Mike Smith make a bit of Breeders’ Cup history, too.

Smith rode his 16th Breeders’ Cup winner, surpassing the record he had held with now-retired Jerry Bailey.

French trainer Mikel Delzangles warmed up for a crucial trip to Australia — where he saddles Dunaden in defense of the Melbourne Cup title on Tuesday — with a victory by Flotilla in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Flotilla, ridden by Christophe Lemaire, gave Europe their only winner on the day, but South American invader Calidoscopio added a little Latin flavor to the proceedings — the 9-year-old’s unlikely victory in the Marathon making him the oldest horse to win a Breeders’ Cup race.

Royal Delta has kept her crown, winning the Ladies' Classic in emphatic style

Jockey Mike Smith riding Royal Delta celebrates victory in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic race at Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, California, on November 2, 2012.

The $2 million, 1 1/8-mile Ladies’ Classic capped the action, and the winner’s circle had a familiar feel, even though Royal Delta had been sold to Benjamin Leon since her Breeders’ Cup triumph last year.

Leon returned the mare to trainer Bill Mott, who has now saddled three straight Ladies’ Classic winners and five overall.

“I think we came with the right horse,” Mott said. “I want to thank Mr. Leon for having the confidence in me and taking the risk to give the filly back to me after he purchased her out of the sale last year.”

Mott was also relieved to see Royal Delta at her best after a rough trip from New York, which was delayed and disrupted by killer storm Sandy.

“When we left, trying to beat the hurricane out of there, they had to load in the middle of the night and she got excited backing into her stall on the plane and she scraped herself up. That caused me worry this week.

“Whew! I can tell you I feel a whole lot better right now.”

Jockey Christophe Lemaire rides Flotilla to victory in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf race

Jockey Christophe Lemaire rides Flotilla to victory in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf race at Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, California, on November 2, 2012.

My Miss Aurelia, winner of last year’s Juvenile Fillies, was second with Corey Nakatani aboard and Include Me Out was third.

Questing was pulled up on the back side by jockey Irad Ortiz, who felt she wasn’t running properly, but veterinarians didn’t find any obvious injury.

Hightail opened the championships at Santa Anita, nestled near the mountains northeast of Los Angeles, with an upset in the six furlong, $500,000 Juvenile Sprint.

The 15-1 shot gave trainer D. Wayne Lukas a 19th Breeders’ Cup winner — 10 more than the next most-winning trainer in the history of the championships, which this year feature 15 races.

Saturday’s nine-race slate includes the $3 million Turf — with St Nicholas Abbey bidding for a repeat — and culminates with the $5 million Classic.

Beholder, trained by Richard Mandella and ridden by Garrett Gomez, won the $2 million, 1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies, seizing the early lead and fending off a late challenge from the Bob Baffert-trained Executiveprivilege, who finished second with Rafael Bejarano in the irons. Dreaming of Julia was third.

Zagora, a French-bred filly trained in the United States by Chad Brown and ridden by Javier Castellano, won the $2 million, 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, getting the better of some classy European competition on Santa Anita’s firm turf track.

Jockey Mike Smith riding Royal Delta (R) won his16th Breeders' Cup

Jockey Mike Smith rides Royal Delta (R) to victory in the Breeder’s Cup Ladies’ Classic race at Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, California, on November 2, 2012 ahead of Include Me Out, ridden by Joseph Talamo (C), and Love and Pride, ridden by John Velasquez (L).

Marketing Mix was second and favorite The Fugue, trained by John Gosden at Newmarket, settled for third as jockey William Buick could find no room to run in the stretch.

“I had a beautiful trip,” Castellano said. “I was just where I wanted to be behind the speed. Turning for home, I went to the outside and she gave me a good kick.”

Gosden thought his filly was “unlucky”.

“She didn’t have any room and William was sitting there with nowhere to go.”

The Delzangles-trained Ridasiyna was running well at the end but ended up fourth as the 5-1 second choice.

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