WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Royal Delta took the lead coming out of the final turn and beat Tiz Miz Sue by a neck Saturday to win the 75th running of the $750,000 Grade II Delaware Handicap.
Royal Delta held a lead into the final stretch with Tiz Miz Sue right at her flank. The two matched strides in the final furlong, with Mike Smith applying strong left hand pressure to Royal Delta and Joe Rocco Jr. rousing Tiz Miz Sue right handed.
``They got right to us but my mare wasn't going to let them get by her,'' Smith said. ``She just kept digging in.''
As they hit the wire, Royal Delta pulled out the win by a neck, and Awesome Maria was 5 3-4 lengths back in third. Love and Pride was a tiring fourth.
``She was really, really game, I mean the best mare in the country beat us a head so you can't take anything away from her.'' Rocco said. ``My mare was trying as hard as she could, she just couldn't get by her.''
Royal Delta covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.51 to get her seventh win in 12 lifetime starts and paid $3.00, $2.40 and $2.10. Tiz Miz Sue returned $9.80 and $3.60, and Awesome Maria paid $2.10. The $450,000 winner's share raised Royal Delta's career earnings to $1,600,100.
Royal Delta, the 2012 Eclipse Award winning 3-year-old filly, earned a starting spot in this year's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic in the ``Win and you're in'' Breeders' Cup program.
Love and Pride rushed to the lead at the start under Jeremy Rose while Awesome Maria broke a bit awkwardly under Ramon Dominguez. Love and Pride cut had early fractions of :22.87 and :45.70 for a half and still held a 3 1/2-length lead after covering six furlongs in 1:09.80.
``(Royal Delta) had to overcome a lot today, they packed us six wide in the turn and Mike had to ride offensively and defensively at the same time,'' trainer Bill Mott said. ``She only won because she's very special.''
Royal Delta and Smith made their move in the second turn, ranging up three wide after seven furlongs to take over the lead as Awesome Maria slipped through along the rail to challenge with Tiz Miz Sue also gaining ground outside. That set up the final finish.
``It just didn't set up for us at all,'' Dominguez said. ``I was happy we finished third but like I said, things just didn't work out the way we thought they would.''