Dalika Chasing Another Emotional Victory For Stall In Tom Benson Memorial

In her most recent outing, Dalika provided trainer Al Stall Jr. with an emotional tribute to a most impactful figure in his life, his late father. The multiple stakes-winning mare can give her conditioner another happy tug on the heartstrings this Saturday when she heads up a field-of-13 entered for the $150,000 Tom Benson Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Run at 1 1/16 miles over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, the Benson, named for the late owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, is one of eight stakes on the 14-race card that is headlined by the 108th running of the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2).

Bal Mar Equine’s Dalika (post 3 as the 3-1 favorite on Mike Diliberto’s morning line, with Miguel Mena to ride) already scored one sentimental triumph for Stall when she captured the Albert M. Stall Memorial—named for his late father—over the same course and distance on Feb. 13. Given that the Louisiana-born trainer conditions horses for Benson’s G M B Stables, a victory by the 5-year-old daughter of Pastorius in Saturday’s test would resonate beyond just adding to her career total of six wins from 18 starts.

“We were treating it (the Stall Memorial) like any other race as far as the horse was concerned,” Stall said. “As it got closer and the conditions (soft turf) were looking good for us and then when it happened (the win) it was sort of an explosion of emotions. It was great to have most of my family there. My wife, kids, mother, sisters, all that. It couldn’t have really been much better.”

Dalika has notched two of her better career outings over the Stall-Wilson, winning the Blushing K. D. in December to go along with her victory in the Stall Memorial. Holding her top form for consecutive starts has been the albatross for the mare, however, as she has yet to post back-to-back wins in her career.

Sandwiched between her two victories at the New Orleans oval was a fifth-place run in Marie G. Krantz in January. Stall is hoping that the consistency he has seen from Dalika in the mornings will translate into her snapping her roller coaster history.

“If you look at her past performances, it’s peaks and valleys and this looks like a valley type race,” Stall said. “We are just hoping that getting a super consistent number of races in her and training every day, this race keeps her at the proper level to win. Even at her age, we are still learning. We just hope we can put two good races together. That’s the concern and the hope for this weekend.”

If Dalika has an off-day this weekend, conditions could be right for Pocket Aces Racing’s Temple City Terror (post 6 at 8-1 with Joel Rosario) to turn the tables on her nemesis. The Brendan Walsh-trained mare was beaten by Dalika in both the Blushing K. D. and Stall Memorial but owns a win over the course, having prevailed in an optional-claimer going 1 1/16 miles in December.

“She’s a model of consistency, she shows up every time,” Walsh said. “She’s progressed really well as time goes on. She ran a blinder the last time. Joel (Rosario) actually won on her at Churchill last spring, so that’s why we went for him, the fact that he’s in town. Florent (Geroux) couldn’t ride her back so we went with Joel, so here we are.She has won on firm a couple of times, but she does like a little give in the ground, but the key to her is plenty of pace. She does like to run at that pace at the end. She’s got a great kick. She’s doing great. I wouldn’t count her out.”

Silverton Hill’s homebred Pass the Plate (post 8 at 8-1 with Brian Hernandez Jr.) was a fast-closing third in the Stall Memorial for trainer Paul McGee. The 4-year-old daughter of Temple City beat 3-year-olds when she won the local Pago Hop in December and should get a solid pace to rally into Saturday.

An X-factor in the field could be Lothenbach Stables’ multiple stakes winner Winter Sunset (post 5 at 20-1 with Marcelino Pedroza), who will be making just her second start since October 2019. The regally-bred daughter of Tapit out of grade 1 winner Winter Memories returned from a year-long layoff in October to finish sixth in a Keeneland allowance. Trained by Wayne Catalano, Winter Sunset has earned two of her three career wins over the Stall-Wilson.

Completing the Benson field from the rail out: MyRacehorse.com’s His Glory (20-1 with Adam Beschizza), seventh as the pacesetter in the Stall Memorial for trainer Joe Sharp; Don Alberto Stable’s homebred Dominga (post 2 at 8-1 with Florent Geroux), who won the LaCombe Memorial over the course last year but is unraced since August for trainer Brad Cox; The Elkstone Group’s Logic N Reason (post 4 at 10-1 with John Velazquez), who enters off a win in a Jan. 2 optional-claimer at Tampa Bay Downs for trainer Christophe Clement; La Nora’s Joy Epifora (Arg) (post 7 at 15-1 with James Graham), a troubled fourth in the Stall Memorial for trainer Ignacio Correas; Ismael Thoroughbreds’ Russian Mafia (post 9 at 20-1 with Santos Sanjur), who won a local course and distance optional-claimer Jan. 31 for trainer Eduardo Rodriguez; Full of Run Racing’s Dreamalildreamofu (post 11 at 10-1 with Colby Hernandez), who romped in an off-the-turf optional-claimer here Jan. 23 for Cox; and Highlander Training Center’s and Sharp’s uncoupled entry of Catch a Bid (post 12 at 5-1 with Luis Saez), fourth in the Jan. 31 Jersey Lilly at Sam Houston, in her first start of the year and for her new barn, and Summer in Saratoga (post 13 at 10-1 with Irad Ortiz Jr.), unraced since winning a Sept. 10 AOC at Kentucky Downs.

The post Dalika Chasing Another Emotional Victory For Stall In Tom Benson Memorial appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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