June 24, 2024

Dalika fights back to upset Beverly D., earn Breeders’ Cup berth

Dailka wins the Beverly D. Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

A longstanding player in the female turf ranks, if a fringe one at the Grade 1 level, Dalika stepped up to score a new career high in Saturday’s $500,000 Beverly D. (G1). The 7.51-1 longest shot on the board made the most of her early speed, and fighting spirit, to repel Princess Grace in course-record time on the revamped Churchill Downs turf.

The Beverly D. is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), but German-bred Dalika was not nominated. Her connections – owner Paul Varga’s Bal Mar Equine and trainer Al Stall Jr. – will have the pleasant problem of deciding whether to make her eligible.

Most recently fifth in the Diana (G1), where she was run off her feet by the course record-setting In Italian, Dalika faced no such pace cauldron here. The gray beat the other potential pacesetter, Princess Grace, to the early lead through the opening quarter in :23.14. New rider Brian Hernandez Jr. nursed her through fractions of :46.44 and 1:10.13, when the stalking Princess Grace accosted her.

Swinging into the stretch, Princess Grace appeared to have Dalika’s measure. The 3.68-1 chance put her head in front at the eighth-pole, clocking the mile in 1:33.87, but could not put the race away. A stubborn Dalika kept grinding to her inside, and her persistence was rewarded as Princess Grace could not find more.

Dalika regained the advantage, outstayed her rival by a half-length, and paid $17.02. Her final time was 1:46.31, a record for 1 1/8 miles on the Churchill turf. The new course, at first rated firm, was altered to good before the Beverly D. It was still noticeably throwing up clods.

In a race dominated by the pace players, the remaining trio didn’t land a blow in an order that didn’t change much. Family Way, the 2.25-1 second choice, churned past the one-paced Aidan O’Brien shipper Lily Pond for third. Rougir, the 1.73-1 favorite, never factored while trailing throughout.

Dalika had form over both versions of the Churchill turf. Runner-up on this incarnation in the June 5 Mint Julep (G3), her seasonal reappearance, she had placed over the old course in the 2019 Mrs. Revere (G2) and 2021 Keertana S. Her local mark of 7-3-3-0 includes a pair of allowances earlier in her career, and her only unplaced effort here came in her U.S. debut off a layoff.

Dalika’s scorecard now stands at 28-8-7-0, $954,829. Until Saturday, her signature win was the 2021 Robert G. Dick Memorial (G3). She also set a course record in her first stakes coup, the 2020 One Dreamer S. at Kentucky Downs. Dalika went on to capture a pair of stakes during the 2020-21 Fair Grounds meet, the Blushing K.D. S. and Albert M. Stall Memorial, giving her trainer a poignant victory in the race honoring his late father.

Aside from her Churchill credits, her seven stakes placings include last season’s Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3) (to Princess Grace) and the 2018 Prix Herod as a juvenile, her final start for Peter Schiergen. Her best prior finish in a rare Grade 1 foray was a fourth in the 2020 First Lady (G1).

Bred by Gestut Ammerland, Dalika is by German classic-winning champion Pastorius and out of the Hurricane Run mare Drawn to Run. She’s therefore inbred to Sadler’s Wells, the patriarch responsible for the male line of both her sire and broodmare sire. This is the family of Group 1 winners Corre Caminos and Recital.