Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s Vale Dori and jockey Mike Smith win the Grade II $ 200,000 Bayakoa Handicap
Third behind superstar distaffers Stellar Wind and Beholder three starts back, Bob Baffert’s Vale Dori seeks her third consecutive win on Saturday at Santa Anita in the Grade II, $ 200,000 La Canada Stakes for older fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth. The La Canada, to be run for the 43rd time, has attracted a field of five.
Vale Dori’s most serious challenger would appear to be the Richard Mandella-trained Wild At Heart, who was second, beaten three lengths by Vale Dori in the Grade II Bayakoa Handicap at Del Mar Dec. 3.
VALE DORI: A rousing 10-length allowance winner on Oct. 28 following her third place finish behind Stellar Wind and Beholder in the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes here Oct. 1, this 5-year-old Argentine mare comes off an authoritative win at odds of 1-2 in the Grade II Bayakoa Stakes Dec. 3 at Del Mar. With both of her recent wins coming at the La Canada distance, Vale Dori is proven at the trip and should again be on or pressing the early lead under Mike Smith, who was aboard for the Bayakoa win. Owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, Vale Dori, who was a Group I winner in Argentina going 7 ½ furlongs, is now three for five under Baffert’s care and has an overall mark of 10-5-3-1. By far and away the leading money earner in the field, Vale Dori has banked $ 454,943.
WILD AT HEART: Although never at threat to the winner, this 5-year-old Indian Charlie mare was clearly second best to Vale Dori in the Grade II Bayokoa and will hope to improve her position on Saturday when ridden by Flavien Prat, who was aboard for her seven furlong maiden score eight starts back at Santa Anita in February, 2015. In her only other try at the La Canada distance, Wild At Heart was a well beaten third to Stellar Wind in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks six starts back in April, 2015. Owned by Ramona Bass, LLC, she will hope to get a stalking trip as she seeks her first graded win. With two wins from nine starts, she has earnings of $ 199,305.
SHOW STEALER: Based at Los Alamitos with trainer Art Sherman, this 5-year-old mare by Eskendereya closed well to be fourth, beaten 4 ¼ lengths by Vale Dori in the Bayakoa at odds of 11-1. Owned and bred by George Krikorian, she’ll be reunited with Tyler Baze, who orchestrated an off the pace allowance win at a mile and a sixteenth three starts back here on May 26. With three wins from 19 starts, the Bayakoa will be her second graded stakes assignment.
ENDURING ERIN: Claimed four starts back on July 31 by trainer Richard Baltas, this 7-year-old mare by Kela has won two of her last three starts for her new connections and will test stakes company for the first time in the La Canada. Owned by Baltas and Paymaster Racing, she’ll stretch out a bit off a neck win going one mile in a second condition allowance at Del Mar on Nov. 11. Ridden by Flavien Prat in both of her recent wins, she be handled for the first time Corey Nakatani and can be expected to press the pace early on Saturday.
AUTUMN FLOWER: Last early in the Bayakoa, this Dan Hendricks-trained daughter of Flower Alley kept to her task late in the Bayakoa, finishing sixth, beaten 5 ½ lengths at 21-1 in what was her first stakes engagement. Owned by her breeders, Priscilla Webb and Thomas Traver, this 5-year-old mare has three wins from 13 starts.
THE GRADE II LA CANADA STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 5 of 9 – Approximate post time 2:30 p.m. PST
1. Vale Dori—Mike Smith—125
2. Show Stealer—Tyler Baze—120
3. Wild At Heart—Flavien Prat—120
4. Enduring Erin—Corey Nakatani—120
5. Autumn Flower—Drayden Van Dyke–120
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