Milestones: Down Royal provides Dalton with 100th win

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Kate Dalton gives Down Royal a big hug after New York-bred mare provided. her and husband Bernie Dalton (aboard) big victory at the Iroquois Steeplechase. Tod Marks/NSA Photo.

By Sean Clancy

“If nothing else, it’ll be a jumper.”

That’s how Bernie and Kate Dalton looked at the mating between their steeplechase mare, Miss Crown, and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup way back in 2013. Alphabet Soup had sired New York Turf Writers Cup winner Italian Wedding (ridden by Bernie) and Miss Crown had won twice and hit the board in five hurdle stakes.

Down Royal, named after an Irish steeplechase track, was born at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs in January 2014. She’s proven to be way better than ‘if-nothing-else.’

The 8-year-old mare won last Saturday’s Margaret Currey Henley Hurdle Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase to move ever closer to $200,000 in earnings. Trained by Kate, she’s won four out of her last five starts, including three stakes and provided Bernie with his 100th career steeplechase win Saturday. Only 41 jockeys have reached the milestone.

Owned by Joe Fowler Jr., Down Royal has been a revelation since coming off Lasix.

“It’s been crazy. She started out looking pretty good as a 2-year-old and then plateaued. Last year, we decided to take her off Lasix, ever since, she’s been first or second. So proud of her. She’s up to $187,000. She just paid for the whole year,” Kate Dalton said. “You can’t write this. I was so nervous, you knew it going in and when you know it’s a possibility, you want it that much more, but you don’t really believe that it’s actually going to happen.”

It happened with another resolute effort, turning away Irish import Burn The Evidence by 2 3/4 lengths.

“I have never screamed like that in my entire life,” Kate Dalton said. “It was like winning a Breeders’ Cup race, so poetic.”

The Daltons have successfully campaigned several fillies and mares, including New York-bred Cat Feathers, over hurdles. Cat Feathers has produced three foals and Miss Crown produced three foals.

“Miss Crown really had no use other than being a broodmare when she was done steeplechasing. She was difficult to deal with to put it nicely,” Dalton said. “At the time, we were going back and forth to New York, so it made sense to put her in the New York program. We had her at McMahon’s and they did a good job dealing with her.”

Down Royal became the best of all of them Saturday.

“She surpassed Cat Feathers in earnings,” Dalton said. “That was as good as it gets. I’m super proud of her. We’ll eventually breed her.”

If nothing else…

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