HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Royal Delta, winner of the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, has returned to the barn of trainer Bill Mott and is being pointed to the $10 million Dubai World Cup next year, Mott said on Monday.
Royal Delta was purchased by Benjamin Leon's Besilu Stable for $8.5 million at the Keeneland November sales four days after her victory in the Ladies' Classic. She is training at Payson Park.
"The plans are to go to the Dubai World Cup with a possibility that she'll have a race at Gulfstream first," said Mott. "It's difficult to top what she's already accomplished, but I won't say it can't be done. It's going to be a big challenge for us to do well for her and for her new owner again next year."
Royal Delta would be the first female to win the Dubai World Cup, which was first run in 1996. Six females have run in seven World Cups, with the best finish at second by the mare To the Victory in 2001.
Royal Delta was consigned to the Keeneland November sale as part of the late Saud bin Khaled's Palides Investments dispersal. The $8.5 million purchase price was the third-highest ever at Keeneland's November auction for a racemare or broodmare prospect.
Leon, who has most of his horses with Todd Pletcher, said on Monday that he decided to keep Royal Delta with Mott because of the trainer's familiarity with the filly and her family.
"The reason for the decision that I made is because it was the wisest decision for the horse," Leon said. "The horse should come first. Mr. Mott has trained Royal Delta's granddam, Royal Delta's dam, and Royal Delta since she started with training."
As for running Royal Delta in the Dubai World Cup, Leon said he will abide by Mott's decision on where to run her.
"If Mr. Mott says that, then I'll back him up," Leon said. "We're pointing for that. We'll see how she'll do between now and a preparation race that will take place when Mr. Mott thinks it's the right time and the right place and the right race for her. But that was another main reason for my decision [to keep Royal Delta with Mott] - in order for another trainer not to have to start getting to know the filly, to be able to have a real shot at the Dubai World Cup. If all the stars align themselves for that, then we intend to run there, yes."
Mott said Leon contacted him for the first time since the sale last week and that Royal Delta had arrived at Payson Park from Ocala on Wednesday.
"Obviously we're very happy to have her back," Mott said from his barn at Gulfstream Park after training hours on Monday. "I'm particularly excited for my crew. Just about all of them, whether in New York or Kentucky, had a chance to be around her at some point this season, and we all felt she was a special filly even before she won the Breeders' Cup. Everybody was thrilled when they learned she was coming back."
- additional reporting by Glenye Cain Oakford