05/07/2017 7:34PM

Vale Dori has to work hard to prevail in Adoration

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Benoit & Associates
Vale Dori, under Rafael Bejarano, scores by a half-length in the Grade 3 Adoration.

ARCADIA, Calif .- Vale Dori extended her winning streak to six races in Sunday’s Grade 3 Adoration Stakes at Santa Anita, but was tested in the final furlong more than in recent races to preserve her perfect record since late October.

Vale Dori won the $100,000 Adoration Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles by a half-length over a pesky Skye Diamonds, the winner of the Dream of Summer Stakes for California-breds on March 26.

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano for trainer Bob Baffert, Vale Dori ($2.60) was timed in 1:42.35.

“Her class got her through today,” Baffert said.

The Adoration was Vale Dori’s first start since a win in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes on March 26, the most prestigious victory of her career on three continents.

The Adoration was run on a wet-fast track after overnight rain.

Vale Dori stalked pacesetter Sensitively through early fractions of 23.65 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.25 for a half-mile before taking the lead in early stretch. Vale Dori led by two lengths with a furlong remaining before Skye Diamonds launched a threat.

“We found out she can back off,” Baffert said. “She needed it. I was light with her [lately]. I’d rather run her than work her.”

Skye Diamonds, claimed for $40,000 at Del Mar last August, was 9 3/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Sensitively. Lady Tapit and Autumn Flower completed the order of finish. Bellamentary and Faithfully were scratched early Sunday.

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Skye Diamonds made her graded stakes debut in the Adoration.

“It was a great try,” trainer Bill Spawr said. “She was getting to her.”

The Adoration was Vale Dori’s final start before a much-anticipated showdown with the champions Songbird and Stellar Wind in the Grade 1 Beholder Mile on June 3. The Beholder Mile was known as the Vanity Mile in recent years, but has been renamed in honor of the retired four-time champion.

Songbird, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2015 and champion 3-year-old filly of 2016, has not started since finishing second to Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last November. Stellar Wind, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2015, won the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park last month in her first start since a fourth in the BC Distaff.

Vale Dori was third to Stellar Wind and Beholder in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes last October.

Vale Dori has won 9 of 14 starts and earned $994,943 for owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum. A 5-year-old Argentine-bred mare by Asiatic Boy, Vale Dori began her career in Argentina and raced in Dubai before joining Baffert’s stable at this time last year.