December 3, 2023

Delta Prince ascends throne in King Edward; Santa Monica tops Brown exacta in Dance Smartly

Delta Prince's breakthrough in the King Edward puts him in the Woodbine Mile discussion (c) WEG/Michael Burns Photography

As a Street Cry half-brother to triple Eclipse Award champion Royal Delta, Delta Prince has long shouldered the burden of high expectations. The Stronach Stables homebred is now living up them with a breakout performance in Saturday’s $138,805 King Edward (G2) on Queen’s Plate Day at Woodbine.

Sparingly raced Delta Prince, last seen finishing third on Saratoga’s yielding ground in the Bernard Baruch (G2) on Labor Day, was dispatched as the 2-1 favorite in his comeback. The Jimmy Jerkens trainee was settled in fourth early as free-wheeling Shakhimat led the way. The fractions posted live were incorrect, later amended to :23.77, :46.58 and 1:09.11 on the firm turf course.

Delta Prince was asked to lift by new rider Javier Castellano turning for home, but the response was not immediate. Once the five-year-old gathered momentum down the lane, however, he was irresistible. The blueblood readily overhauled Shakhimat and drew 1 3/4 lengths clear. The final time flashing on the spot (1:31.22) created buzz, but visions of a course (or North American record) for the turf mile were soon brought down to earth. Delta Prince’s clocking was adjusted to 1:32.35.

That might not be the final word on the time. Timeform’s Craig Milkowski tweeted that he came up with a different figure that was between the other two:

To put the discussion in perspective, Delta Prince either shaded or came within shouting distance of Wise Dan’s course record of 1:31.75 established in the 2013 Woodbine Mile (G1).

Shakhimat held second by a neck from Conquest Panthera, who speared from last. Early stalker Caribou Club was relegated to fourth, followed by First Premio; Tower of Texas, the 2015 King Edward winner who had placed in the past two runnings; Ring Weekend; and Hollywood Hideaway.

Delta Prince’s first stakes victory improved his resume to 8-4-2-2, $263,626. Unraced until the fall of his sophomore season, the dark bay placed in his first two starts on the New York dirt but found himself switching to turf that winter at Gulfstream Park. Delta Prince promptly broke his maiden, cleared his entry-level allowance condition, and finished a close second in the Appleton (G3). But his progress was interrupted by a four-month layoff. Back in business with an impressive second-level allowance coup at the Spa, he raced just once more in the Bernard Baruch before heading to the sidelines again.

“We had a few problems,” owner/breeder Frank Stronach commented, “but Jimmy Jerkens has always been really high on him.

“I think the Woodbine Mile would suit him,” he added of the September 15 feature over the King Edward course and distance.

The Kentucky-bred is the fifth graded stakes performer produced by multiple Grade 3 winner Delta Princess. Aside from $4.8 million-earner and two-time Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) heroine Royal Delta, the A.P. Indy mare is also responsible for Grade 1 scorer Crown Queen, Grade 1-placed Carnival Court, and Grade 2-placed sire Empire Way. Delta Princess is herself a full sister to Grade 1 queen Indy Five Hundred and a three-quarter sister to Italian Group 1 victor Biondetti.

Two races later in the Dance Smartly (G2), Stronach and Jerkens’ reigning Queen’s Plate heroine Holy Helena was looking for a triumphant return to the scene. But trainer Chad Brown crashed the party by sending out the exacta of European import Santa Monica over Inflexibility. Interestingly, Inflexibility had finished third to Holy Helena in last summer’s classic and exacted a measure of revenge here.

Santa Monica was herself gaining satisfaction after a fast-finishing third to Holy Helena in the May 5 Sheepshead Bay (G2) at Belmont Park. Patiently handled by Jose Ortiz, the 7-2 third choice bided her time at the back of the pack early. Meanwhile, stablemate Inflexibility, not satisfied with the dawdling Starship Jubilee up front, rushed up to dictate terms after the half and kept on galloping into the stretch. Then Santa Monica angled out widest of all to mow her down by a cozy half-length, completing 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.51.

Holy Helena, the 5-2 favorite, checked in a further 3 1/4 lengths adrift in third. Next came Bletchley; Liberty Kitten; Starship Jubilee, who had dead-heated for the win in this race last year; Mythical Mission; Saba; and Dream Dancing. Flower Fashion was scratched.

Originally trained in Ireland by Charles O’Brien for his sister Mrs. John Magnier and their late mother, Jacqueline O’Brien (and later her executors), Santa Monica scored her signature win in the 2017 Munster Oaks (G3). The daughter of Mastercraftsman also snared a couple of placings, from her frequent Group attempts, in the 2016 Gallinule (G3) versus males and the Blandford (G2) on Irish Champions Weekend.

Santa Monica was offered at Tattersalls last December, purchased for 375,000 guineas (approximately $528,885), and resurfaced stateside for Magnier with new partners Madaket Stables and Deron Pearson. The bay mare made her premiere for Brown in a 1 1/2-mile Keeneland allowance, romping by four lengths. Now two-for-three in North America, the five-year-old sports an overall mark of 25-4-2-2, $247,969.

Bred by D.J. Erwin Bloodstock in Great Britain, Santa Monica is out of the Zamindar mare Zacchera, who is a half-sister to Group 1-winning sprinter Sakhee’s Secret and fellow English stakes scorers Palace Moon and Palace Affair.