The competition proved a bit too tough Friday as Emerald Downs’ champion Class Included faded to a seventh-place finish in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic won by defending champion Royal Delta at Santa Anita Park.
It was the first time in a 17-race career that Class Included failed to finish either first or second, but considering the stiff competition the result wasn’t too surprising. The longest shot on the board at 38-to-1, Class Included was facing the world’s toughest dirt fillies and mares, the field featuring seven Grade I winners including unbeaten fillies Awesome Feather and My Miss Aurelia.
In the end, it was defending champion Royal Delta*who sold for an amazing $8.5 million at auction following her victory in last year’s Ladies Classic*who stole the show on the front-end. Sent to the lead after Questing struggled to find her stride, Royal Delta led all the way to win by one length over My Miss Aurelia in 1:48.80 for 1-1/8 miles.
Ridden by Mike Smith, trained by Bill Mott and owned by Besilu Stables, Royal Delta earned $1,080,000 and paid $5.40 as the 8-to-5 betting favorite. My Miss Aurelia finished second under Corey Nakatani and Include Me Out was third with Joe Talamo riding.
With the win on Royal Delta, Smith became the Breeders’ Cup all-time leading jockey, edging ahead of the retired Jerry Bailey 16-15 for most wins in the 28-year-old ’Cup. Mott, meanwhile, has saddled the last three winners of the Ladies Classic*Unrivaled Belle in 2010 and Royal Delta in 2011 & 2012.
Class Included, ridden by Russell Baze, broke alertly but dropped back to sixth place, where she remained most of the race until being overtaken late by the previously 10-for-10 Awesome Feather.
Royal Delta also capped a spectacular day for one winning Pick Six player, who somehow strung together a series of five long shots and the win by Royal Delta for a payoff of $773,665.
The Breeders’ Cup continues Saturday with nine more races topped by the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.