12/03/2016 7:44PM

Vale Dori displays star potential winning Bayakoa

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Benoit & Associates
Trainer Bob Baffert has high hopes for Vale Dori in 2017 after her win in the Grade 2 Bayakoa.

DEL MAR, Calif. – The stakes will only get bigger for Vale Dori in the coming year, but she showed she’s headed in the right direction on Saturday at Del Mar by making her final start of 2016 a significant one as she earned her first graded stakes victory since arriving on these shores in the Grade 2, $201,035 Bayakoa Handicap.

 Vale Dori was heavily favored at 1-2 odds and delivered as hoped by her backers, rolling to a three-length victory under jockey Mike Smith. In the coming year she will potentially be taking on the likes of champions Songbird and Stellar Wind in the older female dirt division, but she’s lightly raced – having made just 10 starts – and still has plenty of upside, according to her trainer, Bob Baffert.

 “She’s improving mentally and physically,” Baffert said. “I think there’s a lot more there.”

 Vale Dori pressed the early pace of Glozyzapper during the early going of the 1 1/16-mile race, put away that rival a quarter-mile out, pulled clear in upper stretch and was never threatened through the final furlong. Wild At Heart got up for second, three-quarters of a length in front of Moyo Honey.

 Show Stealer was fourth and was followed, in order, by Barbara Beatrice, Autumn Flower, Gloryzapper, and Desert Madam.

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 Vale Dori needed 1:44.79 to cover the 1 1/16 miles on a track rated fast. It was quite windy at Del Mar on Saturday, and times were slower than expected in many instances.

 “That was nice,” said Baffert, who watched the race at home and let assistant Jim Barnes handle the on-site chores. “She shipped down there this morning, handled herself, and ran her race. She should have a good year next year. Our goal is the Breeders’ Cup.”

 Next year’s Breeders’ Cup is at Del Mar, where Vale Dori now has won twice in three starts.

 Vale Dori, 4, was bred on Southern Hemisphere time in her native Argentina. After racing three times there, she went to Dubai, and raced twice, including a fourth-place finish against males in the United Arab Emirates Derby. Since coming to the United States and moving to Baffert’s barn, she has won three times in five starts, and was a distant third behind Stellar Wind and Beholder in the Grade 1 Zenyatta.

Vale Dori, a daughter of Asiatic Boy, has now won 5 of her 10 starts. The $120,000 she earned on Saturday brought her career earnings to $454,943. She is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum.