Heavily favored Vale Dori stalked longshot pacesetter Sensitively early and held off a game Skye Diamonds late to take Sunday’s Grade III, $ 100,000 Adoration Stakes by a half length at Santa Anita, her sixth consecutive win and her fifth consecutive graded stakes triumph. Trained by Bob Baffert, the 5-year-old Argentine-bred mare got a mile and a sixteenth over a wet fast surface in 1:42.35.
“She needed that stretch run,” said Baffert. “I’ve been sort of light with her. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to run her here and I just decided to throw her in. I’d rather just run her than work her…Our little filly, you could tell she needed that race. Next time, we’ll be ready. Her class got her through today.”
(Baffert indicated that Vale Dori is tentatively going to be pointed to the Grade I Beholder Mile at Santa Anita on June 3).
Off at 1-5 in a field of five fillies and mares three and up, Vale Dori returned $ 2.60, $ 2.10 and $ 2.10. Owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, Vale Dori, who came off a win here in the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes on March 18, is now 14-9-3-1. With the winner’s check of $ 60,000 she increased her earnings to $ 994,943.
“When I got to the stretch, I let her go,” said Bejarano. “She showed me a big kick but she doesn’t like the whip at all. I touched her once and she put her tail between her legs and hit the brakes. Then I showed it to her so she kept to her task and continued running.
“I was a little concerned about the horse on the lead and the one right behind me (Skye Diamonds), so I had to make the right move.”
Claimed by trainer Bill Spawr six starts back for $ 40,000 on Aug. 27, California-bred Skye Diamonds was gaining on the winner at the wire while finishing second by some 9 ¾ lengths over Sensitively. Off at 5-2, Skye Diamonds paid $ 3.00 and $ 2.10.
“She was coming,” said Spawr of his streaking stable star, who was facing graded stakes competition for the first time while in search of her fourth consecutive win. “A few more jumps and I think she’d have got there.”
Ridden by Tyler Baze, Sensitively, who relinquished the lead three sixteenths of mile from home, was off at 8-1 and paid $ 2.20 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.65, 47.25, 1:11.15 and 1:35.74.
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