Dalika Returns to Churchill, Takes Them All the Way in G3 Cardinal

November 24, 2022

Dalika wires the G3 Cardinal (Coady Photography)

Churchill Downs Press Release

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Dalika (GER) scored her third front-running graded stakes win of the year when she rolled to a 1 ¾-length victory over Perseverancia in Thursday’s 47th running of the $268,500 Cardinal (Grade III) on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs.

Dalika (GER), 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, Dalika (GER) determinedly won the $500,000 Beverly D. Stakes (Grade I) at Churchill Downs in August and followed that with a triumph in the $726,580 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (GIII) 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 (GER) established position from the outset while setting fractions of :24.36 and :49.07 as the 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 (GER) had a two-length advantage over the chasing 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 Jr. 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 (GER) returned mutuels of $5.72, $4.14 and $3.20 as the 9-5 second betting choice. Perserveranica, ridden by Julien Leparoux, returned $9.16 and $4.84 at odds of 12-1. Third-place finisher Adventuring, under Joel Rosario, was another 1 ¼ lengths back in third and paid $2.86 to show.

Coady Photography

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 (GER) finished last of six in the $317,282 Fall Harvest on the Breeders’ Cup undercard at Keeneland.

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

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

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