There would be a certain sense of symmetry if Royal Delta wins the Dubai World Cup.
After all, her trainer, Bill Mott, saddled the winner of the inaugural running, two-time American Horse of the Year Cigar, in 1996.
Now he has returned to Dubai with champion filly Royal Delta, who has a chance to become the first filly or mare to triumph in the world’s richest race.
“That’s what I was thinking,” Mott, 58, said with a laugh on Tuesday when asked about the possibility of such a remarkable double training feat.
Mott has put quite a lot of thought into Royal Delta’s attempt to enter the Dubai World Cup record books. Even before Royal Delta was proclaimed America’s champion three-year-old filly of 2011, Mott was envisioning her in Dubai.
When Benjamin Leon, who races under the nom de course of Besilu Stables, spent $8.5-million to buy Royal Delta at auction last November from the estate of her breeder, the late Saudi Prince Saud bin Khaled, Mott shared his vision with the owner.
“As her trainer, I told him up front—before I even knew I was getting her back—that the Dubai World Cup would be the perfect place to take her,” said Mott, the 2011 Eclipse Award winner as America’s outstanding trainer and the youngest, at 45, to be inducted into the American Racing Hall of Fame.
“She’s got many things going for her. The one thing we don’t know is whether she is good enough,” Mott explained. “But the distance doesn’t seem to be a factor; she’s won (over 2,000m) (a mile and a quarter). She’s won races on a synthetic track. She’s won under the lights and she doesn’t need any medication to speak of. She’s jumped through a lot of the hoops that you have to clear to win here.”
Leon decided to leave the filly with Mott rather than transfer her to another trainer he had employed, and it did not take him long to embrace the idea of trying to win the Dubai World Cup with the strong stretch runner.
"He spent a lot of money for her and obviously the filly is a champion. But he’s an owner who is clearly willing to take risks. It didn’t take much convincing to talk him into it,” Mott said.
Royal Delta, a lovely big filly that Mott’s assistant, Leana Willaford compares to a supermodel, clearly is the primary inspiration for both Mott and Leon in their campaign to do what has never been done before in Dubai and indeed only attempted by six other female runners. So far, the daughter of Empire Maker is doing everything just the way Mott would want her to prior to the race, training with the same enthusiasm she displayed prior to her victory in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs.
"She’s quite determined—willful, I suppose you would call it—and she uses it to her advantage,” Mott said, an advantage he hopes will take him back full circle to another Dubai World Cup celebration.