Vale Dori and jockey Mike Smith pose in the winner’s circle after their victory in the Grade II, $ 200,000 La Canada Stakes
Sent from her inside post from the outset, heavily favored Vale Dori took no prisoners as she waltzed gate to wire to a 2 ½ length win under Mike Smith in Saturday’s Grade II, $ 200,000 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Bob Baffert, the newly turned 5-year-old Argentine-bred mare notched her third consecutive win as she negotiated a mile and one sixteenth over a main track listed as “good” in 1:44.95.
With second choice Wild At Heart in close attendance down the backside, Smith called upon Vale Dori approaching the three furlong pole and opened up immediately, making the La Canada a race for the minor placings at that point.
“It’s important to have her versatility,” said Smith. “I think she’s got to the point where she’s not a one dimensional horse and I think she’d even sit off of someone now if they wanted to get crazy…I look for her to do some great things. She’s got a long year ahead of her and hopefully she won’t run into my other big mare (Jerry Hollendorfer’s Songbird) and I get to ride them both.”
Owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, Vale Dori, who was making her sixth start for Baffert in Southern California, came off an impressive three length win in the Grade II Bayakoa Handicap at Del Mar Dec. 3 and she now has four wins in combination with Baffert.
Off at 1-5 in a field of five older fillies and mares, she paid $ 2.60, $ 2.10 and $ 2.10. (With $ 632,101 out of the total show pool of $ 682,814 bet on her, Vale Dori created a minus show pool of $ 119,663).
“She’s come a long way,” said Baffert. “It was tough to get a bridle on her before. She was tough. She’s improving, we see it. I’m just glad she’s doing well. We’ll get her ready for the big guns. I wonder if Mike will stay on her (laughing).”
Trainer Art Sherman’s Show Stealer, next to last going into the far turn, picked up the pieces and ran second, some 7 ½ lengths clear of Autumn Flower.
Ridden by Tyler Baze, Show Stealer was off at 13-1 and paid $ 5.80 and $ 3.40.
Autumn Flower, who was ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, was content to lag well back in last, but kept to her task through the drive, as she came up the rail to finish third by a half length.
Off at 20-1, Autumn Flower paid $ 5.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.63, 47.58, 1:12.43 and 1:38.37.
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