Sabin Stakes: Awesome Maria Romps in Return; Royal Delta Finishes Second

Carlos TorresContributor IFebruary 25, 2012

E. Paul Robsham Stables' Awesome Maria honored her name and won the $100,000 G3 Sabin Stakes in dominating fashion over last year's three-year-old champion filly Royal Delta.

Awesome Maria had not raced since winning the Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont on June 18. One month later while training, she suffered a broken bone in her left front leg and that forced her long eight-month layoff.

But she showed no effects from the long layoff as she romped to an eight-lengths win, and her 1:42.82 final time was just .47 seconds from Endorsement's track record for the 1-1/16-mile distance.

Royal Delta, whose last race was her win at last year's Breeders Cup Ladies Classic, was way off her best showing and was not a factor today.

The short field of five runners made this race an expected showdown Awesome Maria and Royal Delta that never materialized.

But this was Awesome Maria's day all along. She looked better than any of her opponents from the moment they hit the paddock.

At the start of the race Awesome Maria was a step slow, but jockey John Velazquez placed her right away in the clear three-wide.

The expected pace setter was the very much improved Groupie Doll, but it was Canadian Mistress who was rushed to the front by jockey Elvis Trujillo at the start.

It was shortly after—at the start of the first turn—that a decision by John Velazquez on Awesome Maria might have won the race for him.

Awesome Maria has great tactical speed. And it was expected that if she would run ahead of Royal Delta, at the top of the home stretch with her great late kick Awesome Maria could run away from Royal Delta.

As they approached the first turn, Royal Delta's jockey Jose Lezcano recognized Awesome Maria's slow start and tried to box her inside and keep Awesome Maria on back of Royal Delta.

But Velazquez saw the move and rushed Awesome Maria to the small space that was closing in the gap at the turn, and placed her in second place on the clear behind Canadian Mistress.

Once they hit the backstretch, Velazquez and Lezcano settled their mounts in third and fourth place.

At the three-quarter-mile pole, Awesome Maria was just a head behind Groupie Doll in second place under a hand ride, while Royal Delta was being ask for her best in fourth place.

Once they entered the homestretch, Velazquez unleashed Awesome Maria who drew-off for her impressive romp on her comeback.

Awesome Maria was in the midst of a great campaign, reeling four consecutive stakes wins which included her last at the G1 Ogden Phipps.

It looks like she can retake the same path she followed last year, which most likely take her to the G3 Rampart Stakes on her next race.

As for Royal Delta, it's no secret that trainer Bill Mott was using the Sabin as a prep for her next race—the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

He told ESPN that he was not disappointed by the result and that both the distance and the surface at Meydan will benefit her.

Royal Delta is a very good filly, but the DWC is a big step up in class for her considering that last year, when both Royal Delta and Horse of the Year Havre De Grace were at their peak, Havre De Grace crushed her just like Awesome Maria did today.

Havre De Grace's connections are not even considering the trip.

The Dubai World Cup is a very tough race run under very tough circumstances. By the looks of this race, it seems like Bill Mott has his work cut out for him with Royal Delta if she is to become a contender in that race.


Sabin Stakes | Grade 3 | Purse: $100,000 |  4 years old and up, Fillies and Mares | 1-1/16-Mile 








Awesome Maria

John Velazquez





Royal Delta

Jose Lezcano





Groupie Doll

Calvin Borel




Also ran: Canadian Mistress and Ghostly Darkness.

Fractional Times: :23.85, :47.23, 1:11.10, 1:36.16
Final Time: 1:42.82