It’s Tricky jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire this weekend.
Cross-entered in the seven-furlong Grade I Ballerina on Friday and the nine-furlong Grade I Personal Ensign today, she was scratched from the Ballerina, thus avoiding a matchup against Turbulent Descent.
The Personal Ensign is by no means a softer spot, as It’s Tricky will face Royal Delta, who beat her for the 3-year-old filly Eclipse Award last year.
It’s Tricky, a daughter of Mineshaft owned by Godolphin Racing, hasn’t lost in three starts this year, but faces Royal Delta for the first time since the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.
Royal Delta beat her by 21⁄2 lengths that day and has won two straight since finishing ninth against males in the Dubai World Cup.
“We’re happy to give Royal Delta another chance back in Saratoga, where she won the Alabama,” Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott told the New York Racing Association. “She seems to be doing fine here, and we hope she repeats from a year ago.”
Royal Delta, a daughter of Empire Maker owned by Besilu Stables, beat It’s Tricky in the Alabama by 51⁄2 lengths, but she also lost to It’s Tricky at Saratoga.
It’s Tricky won the Coaching Club American Oaks by 13⁄4 lengths over Plum Pretty, with Royal Delta in third another 61⁄2 lengths back.
In the one that really counted, those three showed up again in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, and Plum Pretty led most of the way until It’s Tricky took the first run at her in the stretch.
Royal Delta, under Jose Lezcano, was right there, also, and she outfinished It’s Tricky to win by 21⁄2 lengths and wrap up the 3-year-old filly championship.
This year, Mott put together an ambitious campaign for the Dubai World Cup and was not discouraged by second by eight lengths to Awesome Maria in the Grade III Sabin in February as a prep for the $10 million race at the end of March.
Royal Delta stalked the leaders, but fell back to ninth, 81⁄2 lengths out of it behind Monterosso.
She was given time off to recover from the overseas trip and romped by eight lengths in the Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs on June 16 under a new jockey, Hall of Famer Mike Smith.
Then it was all she could do to hold off Tiz Miz Sue, a 28-1 bomb, by a neck in the Delaware Handicap at a mile and a quarter.
The Personal Ensign has been dropped back from a mile and a quarter to a mile and an eighth this year.
“She had to work at it in the Delaware Handicap, without a doubt,” Mott said. “She had to work early and hang on late.
“With the difference in weight she gave the second horse, she ran quite well. She’s doing well and she’s proven in the past she can run well over this racetrack. She’s high weight, and I suppose she deserves to be.”
Royal Delta carried 124 pounds to 115 for Tiz Miz Sue in the Delaware Handicap.
In the Personal Ensign, she’ll carry 124 again, It’s Tricky was assigned 123 and the other four in the field were each given at least five less than that.
Royal Delta is 4-5 on the morning line, and It’s Tricky is 2-1.
Despite the fact that It’s Tricky is 3-for-3, she hasn’t raced since a three-quarters of a length win in the Grade I Ogden Phipps Handicap on May 28.
“We have her coming back at one and an eighth miles, and she hasn’t raced in three months,” trainer
Kiaran McLaughlin said. “Hopefully, we’ll have her tight enough.”
It’s Tricky will break from the rail under Eddie Castro, with two front-runners, Brushed by a Star and Love and Pride, directly to her outside. Royal Delta drew the No. 4 post.
“We might have a slight pace edge over Royal Delta,” McLaughlin said. “Being that we’re in the 1 hole, we’ll be forwardly placed. There will probbaly be one or two outside who will go out and clear us. We’ll see if they can.”
Tiz Miz Sue ran a big race at a long price in the Delaware Handicap and is trained by Steve Hobby, who doesn’t come to Saratoga often, but scored back-to-back victories in the Sword Dancer with Telling in 2009 and 2010.