'She Could’ve Easily Went A Mile-And-A-Half Today': Front-Running Dalika Lands Cardinal - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘She Could’ve Easily Went A Mile-And-A-Half Today’: Front-Running Dalika Lands Cardinal

Brian Hernandez Jr. guides Dalika to victory in the G3 Cardinal at Churchill Downs

German-bred Dalika scored her third front-running graded stakes win of the year when she rolled to a 1¾-length victory over Perseverancia in the $268,500 Cardinal (G3) on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs.

Dalika, a 6-year-old mare owned by Paul Varga's Bar Mar Equine LLC, ran 1 1/8 miles over firm turf in 1:50.61 to collect the seventh stakes win of her career. Most notably, she determinedly won the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs in August and followed that with a triumph in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3) in September.

Brian Hernandez Jr. rode the winner for trainer Al Stall Jr.

Breaking from post-position five in the field of nine fillies and mares, Dalika established position from the outset while setting fractions of :24.36 and :49.07 as 8-5 favorite Adventuring rated in second down the backstretch. Curly Ruth attempted to challenge from the outside on the final turn but was quickly dismissed. At the head of the stretch, Dalika had a two-length advantage over the Adventuring as Perseverancia, who rated well back in seventh early on, rallied late in the stretch for the place.

“I've learned from watching (the late former jockey) Miguel (Mena) ride her that you just stay out of her way and she'll give you her best run,” Hernandez said. “She's just a solid filly. I told (owner) Paul (Varga) after the race that she could've easily went a mile-and-a-half today.”

The triumph was worth $148,800 and increased her earnings to $1,441,586. She boasts a record of 10-7-0 in 31 starts.

“Since we got her as a 2-year-old she's been so consistent in her races,” Varga said. “She really likes it over here at Churchill. She's had 31 races in her career, at all distances, and she's given us 10 wins now. She's so tough on the lead. She's actually been a seven-time runner-up. This year particular she's had a tough campaign. Every time it looks like she's going to get passed she stays game.”

Dalika returned of $5.72 for the win as the second betting choice. Perserveranica, ridden by Julien Leparoux, was 1 1/4 lengths in front o third-place finisher Adventuring, under Joel Rosario.

The order of finish was completed by Sunny One, Lake Lucerne, Flippant, Pass the Plate, Curly Ruth, and Disappearing Act. Wave of Goodness was scratched.

Prior to the Cardinal, Dalika finished last of six in the Fall Harvest on the Breeders' Cup undercard Nov. 5 at Keeneland.

“We just threw her last race out at Keeneland in the Fall Harvest,” Hernandez said. “Things didn't go her way that day and that wasn't the Dalika that we know.”

Dalika, a gray or roan daughter of Pastorius out of the Hurricane Run mare Drawn to Run, was bred in Germany by Gestut Ammerland.

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