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Family Way Favored To Repeat At Kentucky Downs | 2022 Ladies Marathon Stakes Preview & FREE Picks
Family Way winning the 2021 Ladies Marathon (Coady Photography)

Family Way Favored To Repeat At Kentucky Downs | 2022 Ladies Marathon Stakes Preview & FREE Picks

Mike previews the 2022 Ladies Marathon Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs, then gives his top picks and longshots. Defending champion Family Way might be a formidable favorite, but Mike has an exotics bet that should pay well. Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

Trainer Al Stall Jr. kind of snuck up on everyone in the G1, $500,000 Beverly D. at Churchill Downs last month. That won’t happen Saturday in the G3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf for fillies and mares aged 3 & up. 

His 6-year-old mare Dalika (GER) is the 2-1 Global Tote morning-line favorite in the one-mile race. When she ran in the five-horse Beverly D. on Aug. 13, Dalika was dismissed at 7-1, the longest price in the field.

“I feel pretty good about it,” Stall said about his chances in the Ladies Turf. “But I am sure everyone else in the race feels good about it, too.”

Dalika, who will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., who rode the daughter of Pastorius (GER) for the first time in the Beverly D., will be making her fourth start of 2022. As a Grade 1 winner, she raises the purse offering to $1 million from $750,000 under incentives Kentucky Downs added to the race. As a German-bred, Dalika is not eligible for the $450,000 in Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund enhancements, but the $550,000 base purse is still the largest for which the mare has competed.

She has faced salty competition this summer, as, two starts ago, she ran in the G1 $500,000 Diana at Saratoga where she finished fifth in a field of six. Her first start of the year produced a second in the G3, $200,000 Mint Julep Stakes at Churchill on June 5.

“She has had a good freshening,” Stall said. “She is a fresh horse with only three starts this year. And she loves this track.”

Dalika, who is owned by Paul Varga’s Bal Mar Equine, finished second in this race last year and won the $300,000 One Dreamer Stakes in 2020.

Stall will also be saddling In Good Spirits, also owned by Bal Mar, in the G3, $600,000 Mint Ladies Sprint at 6 1/2-furlongs for fillies and mares aged 3 & up.

The 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper is winless in three starts this year. Her last start produced a fourth-place finish in the one-mile De La Rose at Saratoga on Aug. 7. Before that, she ran at Churchill Downs and Woodbine.

“After we raced in Canada (June 4), we had to wait until Saratoga because there was no turf racing at Churchill,” Stall said. “The only race that really fit her was the De La Rose. We wanted to stretch her out a little bit. She ran really hard and I think she got a lot out of it.”

Stall has one more horse for Saturday that he hopes gets a chance to run. Evan Sing, a 3-year-old gelding, is the first horse on the also-eligible list for the G2 $600,000 Franklin-Simpson Stakes for 3-year-olds running 6 1/2 furlongs.

The son of Hard Spun, who is owned by Norman Cheng, who also bred Evan Sing, has won two of four career starts, all of them this year. When last seen, he was winning an allowance race at Saratoga at 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass on July 28.

“We’ll see what happens,” Stall said about getting in. “Right now, he is at the top of his game.”