Leading 3-year-old filly Princess of Sylmar ran past champion mare Royal Delta on Saturday to win the $400,000 Beldame Invitational at Belmont Park.
The victory by the filly in the 1 1/8-mile stakes gives her an automatic place in the Breeders' Cup Distaff on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita and denied Royal Delta a repeat win of the Beldame.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano, Princess of Sylmar was racing fourth in the five-horse field as Royal Delta and Roman Invader battled at the front.
Royal Delta, ridden by Mike Smith, moved from the outside into the lead around the final turn as Princess of Sylmar advanced into second. Sent off as the top two picks at 3-10 and 2-1 respectively, Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar were even entering the stretch and approaching the furlong-pole.
With 200 yards to go, Princess of Sylmar took the lead as Royal Delta failed to stay with her. The 3-year-old filly hit the wire two lengths ahead of the defending winner.
"Royal Delta was my target all the way in the race," Castellano said. "When I saw she didn't take off at the quarter pole, which usually she does, I thought, 'Whoa, I think I have a chance to win the race.'"
Finishing third was Centring followed by And Why Not and Roman Invader. Lady Cohiba was an early scratch.
Princess of Sylmar covered the Beldame in 1:47.93 on a fast track.
Bred and owned by King of Prussia Stable, Princess of Sylmar recorded her fourth straight win and eighth in 10 career starts. The victory was worth $240,000 to bring the filly's earnings to $1,607,220.
The filly was coming off wins in the Alabama and Coaching Club American Oaks, both at Saratoga, and the Kentucky Oaks on May 3 at Churchill Downs. She also registered wins this year in the Busanda and Busher Stakes at Aqueduct with a second in the Gazelle at the New York track.
"This is a new stratosphere for us," winning owner Ed Stanco said. "When (exercise rider) Jake Nelson was on her in Saratoga two days after we won the Alabama, I walked out with her and she was full of herself. He said she hasn't missed a beat. Todd told me Tuesday she was just perfect in her training. He felt very confident."
Princess of Sylmar returned $6.20, $2.20 and $2.10. Royal Delta paid $2.10 and $2.10, and Centring paid $2.20 to show.