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In one more example of how racehorses repay those who do the right thing for them, the seven-figure weanling Crown Queen became a Grade 1 winner in Keeneland’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

Besilu Stables had purchased the filly out of the Chanteclair Farm dispersal of the late Saud bin Khaled at the 2011 Keeneland November sale. The hammer price of $1.6 million was strong, but the dark brown filly was a half-sister to the top-class Royal Delta (by Empire Maker). It looks soft now.

Their dam is the wondrous producer Delta Princess (A.P. Indy), who has four black-type horses from five foals to race. A G3 stakes winner herself, Delta Princess was a talented racer out of a fine producer, Lyphard’s Delta, and this is a family that was cultivated at Chanteclair to produce an amazing proportion of stakes horses over the years.

A winner of the G2 Nassau Stakes at age three, Lyphard’s Delta, a daughter of champion older mare Proud Delta (Delta Judge), was a grand producer as well. Her two daughters by A.P. Indy, Delta Princess and her year-younger sister Indy Five Hundred, put their dam on the map as a serious producer. Delta Princess won three times at the G3 level, and her full sister won the G1 Garden City Breeders’ Cup Handicap.

As an older mare of 18, Lyphard’s Delta produced G1 winner Biondetti (by A.P. Indy’s champion son Bernardini), and the old mare was provided for by the estate and not sent through the ring at Keeneland like the production-age Delta Princess and her offspring.

In the dispersal at Keeneland November, Delta Princess brought $2.6 million with a March 20 cover to leading sire Distorted Humor. Her champion daughter Royal Delta brought $8.5 million as a racehorse and potential producer. She went on to become a multiple champion and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, as well as $4.8 million.

The foal now named Crown Queen went through the ring immediately following her dam and brought a million dollars less.

Following the filly’s accomplishments this year, her value is much greater, and fascinating prospects stretch out before her. Besilu Stables purchased both Royal Delta and her weanling half-sister. Besilu campaigned Royal Delta extensively, as the grand mare showed class, versatility, and soundness that led her to divisional championships in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

This is a family of racers, especially race fillies, that have shown a great deal of class and that have improved markedly with time. None have been exceptional juveniles, and the same proved true with Crown Queen.

From two starts last year, Crown Queen was third in each. But she has improved out of sight this season, stepping through maiden and allowance victories to win the G2 Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga, and she reached a new level with a determined success in the G1 at Keeneland on Saturday.

Crown Queen is unbeaten in four starts this year, and there is every reason to expect she has some further improvement to come.

In the aftermath of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, trainer Bill Mott noted that owner Ben Leon of Besilu Stable “wanted to give her some time over the winter to mature and grow up a little bit. He made a good call.”

The skills of the trainer and the patience of the ownership have allowed Crown Queen to come to herself naturally, and Mott said, “It was a very special win for me since I trained her mother (Delta Princess) and her grandmother (Lyphard’s Delta) and a lot of the family (including Royal Delta). It’s a very meaningful win for me.”

This pinnacle of success also shows that Crown Queen is maturing and improving at a rate typical of this family and typical of the progeny of the filly’s sire, Smart Strike.

Twice the leading sire in the nation, Smart Strike is proving year after year that he is one of the most important sons of Mr. Prospector, whose other sons include leading stallions Fappiano, Forty Niner, Seeking the Gold, Kingmambo, and Woodman.

This year, Smart Strike has G1 winners Crown Queen and Minorette, as well as four G2 winners and a G3 winner. Five of the seven graded winners are fillies or mares, but Smart Strike made his name as a sire of top-class colts like Horse of the Year Curlin, champion turf horse English Channel, and top sprinter Fabulous Strike.

And Smart Strike is breeding on. Curlin, sire of 2012 Belmont Stakes and 2013 Metropolitan Handicap winner Palace Malice, and English Channel, sire of 2013 Travers winner V.E. Day, are both showing that there is a lot of stamina in this branch of Mr. Prospector.

Considering the stamina that Smart Strike can impart, the strength of Royal Delta’s G1 performances over 10 furlongs, and the emphatic way that Crown Queen battled out the finish of her G1 victory, a step up in trip might allow the filly to achieve an even higher ranking among her contemporaries.

*The preceding post was first published earlier this week at Paulick Report.

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