01/14/2017 6:38PM

Vale Dori doesn't need to go all out to capture La Canada

Benoit & Associates
Heavily favored Vale Dori scores by 2 1/2 lengths under Mike Smith in the Grade 2 La Canada.

ARCADIA, Calif.- Vale Dori is collecting Grade 2 wins for fillies and mares with minimal efforts this winter in California.

After winning the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap by three lengths at Del Mar on Dec. 4, Vale Dori won the $200,000 La Canada Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths at Santa Anita on Saturday. She won without significant urging from jockey Mike Smith in the final furlong.

“She’s gotten so good at everything,” Smith said.

Vale Dori led throughout the La Canada Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. She held a half-length advantage over Wild At Heart on the backstretch and was 2 1/2 lengths in front on the turn. Vale Dori ($2.60) was timed in 1:44.95.

“She won like her odds,” trainer Bob Baffert said.

Show Stealer, a 13-1 shot, closed from fourth in a field of five to finish second, 7 1/2 lengths in front of 20-1 Autumn Flower. Wild At Heart, who stalked Vale Dori through the opening half-mile, finished fourth, followed by Enduring Erin in the small field.

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Vale Dori and Smith are unbeaten in two starts as a team. Smith said he rode Vale Dori in the mornings when she arrived to Baffert’s stable from Dubai last year and has noticed development in recent months.

“She’s come around and relaxed,” he said. “I got on her when she first came here and she was aggressive and rank. She’s showed a lot of confidence and class.”

Smith had Vale Dori in front shortly after the start, through early fractions of 23.63 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.58 for a half-mile.

“She was chucking right along,” Baffert said.

Vale Dori was so heavily favored that she attracted $632,101 of the $682,814 bet to show. There was a minus show pool of $119,663.

Vale Dori races for Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa al Maktoum of Dubai and has won 6 of 11 starts and earned $574,943. A 5-year-old Argentine-bred by Asiatic Boy, Vale Dori has raced on three continents.

Vale Dori was a Group 1 winner in Argentina in 2015 and started twice in Dubai last year, including a second in the $250,000 United Arab Emirates Oaks at Meydan Racecourse. She joined Baffert’s stable last spring.

Vale Dori won 3 of 5 starts for Baffert in 2016, highlighted by the win in the Bayakoa Handicap. She was third in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes behind the champions Stellar Wind and Beholder in October.

“They sent her to me to get a Grade 1 and have some fun with her,” Baffert said. “These good fillies are hard to find.”

There are two graded stakes for fillies and mares that could be part of Vale Dori’s schedule in coming months.  The $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes is run at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 11, leading to the $400,000 Santa Margarita Invitational, a Grade 1 at 1 1/8 miles, on March 18.