November 28, 2021

Vale Dori wires La Canada at 1-5

Vale Dori and jockey Mike Smith win the La Canada Stakes (G2), Saturday, January 14, 2017, at Santa Anita Park © BENOIT PHOTO

Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s Vale Dori grabbed command of Saturday’s $200,000 La Canada Stakes (G2) out of the gate and never looked back en route to a 2 1/2-length victory under jockey Mike Smith.

The Bob Baffert-trained five-year-old mare led all the way after setting early splits of :23.63, :47.58, 1:12.43 and 1:38.37. Show Stealer challenged the bay daughter of Asiatic Boy in the lane, but Vale Dori easily put her away and went on to finish 1 1/16 miles on Santa Anita Park’s good main track in 1:44.95.

Vale Dori paid $2.60 as the heavy 1-5 favorite, and earned her third straight win in this spot. Show Stealer was best-of-the-rest in second, 7 1/2 lengths in front of 20-1 longshot Autumn Flower. Wild at Heart, the 3-1 second choice, followed by another half-length and had that much to spare on last-place finisher Enduring Erin.

The La Canada was actually Vale Dori’s fourth win from her past five starts, as she scored in Del Mar’s Tranquility Lake Stakes in her second U.S. outing on August 31 before finishing third in the October 1 Zenyatta Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park.

The Argentine-bred mare followed that contest with a 10-length romp against allowance/optional claiming rivals 27 days later and closed out 2016 with a three-length victory in the Bayakoa Stakes H. (G2) back at Del Mar on December 3.

Vale Dori ran second in last year’s U.A.E. Oaks (UAE-G3) and also placed in Group 2 from her native Argentina in 2015. She improved her scorecard to 6-3-1 from 11 starts and has banked $574,943 lifetime.

Bred by Abolengo, Vale Dori is out of the Halo Sunshine mare Valerina and comes from an Argentinean Group 1-rich female family that includes Argentinean champion South Vagabunda and Uruguayan champion Eliot Ness.


Bob Baffert, trainer Vale Dori, winner

“I’m impressed by her because she took on some really nice fillies. Wild At Heart is a good mare. She took her on early and didn’t give it to her. When Mike (Smith) made that move at the three-eighths pole…I saw him make that adios move and was hoping he didn’t move her too early. She had something left at the end. When they’re that heavily favored, you just hope they run to their odds.

“They sent her to me to get a Grade 1 into her and have some fun with her so I’m just glad that they kept her in training. They were thinking of breeding her so this is good to have. These good fillies are hard to get. She’s improving.

“She’s come a long way. It was tough to get a bridle on her before. She was tough. She’s improving and we see it. I’m just glad she’s doing well. We’ll get her ready for the big guns.

“Eventually she’ll have to run against that caliber of horse (regarding Songbird) but I think she’s improved since she ran against her and we’ll just continue moving forward. If not, we can always put her on a plane and go somewhere else. We have a lot of options with her.”

Mike Smith, jockey Vale Dori, winner

“She’s just gotten so good. They’ve done such a good job of getting her to relax. She’s really come around. I got on her when she first got here and she was nothing like this. She was very rank and very aggressive. To see her now, it’s a complete turnaround. She’s so calm, so cool. She went out there with a lot of confidence, a lot of class. She’s doing well right now and climbing the ladder.

“It’s important to have her versatility. I think she’s gotten 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 and I get to ride them both.”