‘Dori’ Finding U.S. Racing to Her Liking

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Vale Dori | Benoit

With Beholder (Henny Hughes) shipped off to Spendthrift broodmare band and with Stellar Wind (Curlin) being brought along slowly towards a 5-year-old campaign, Saturday’s Santa Margarita Invitational S. shaped as a golden opportunity for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s Vale Dori (Arg) (Asiatic Boy {Arg}) to pick up a U.S. Grade I victory that would enhance her residual value once she is called to the breeding shed. While she may not be as brilliant or as talented as her fellow Argentine-breds named Paseana or Bayakoa, who between them won the Santa Margarita four times in six years from 1989-1994–each won two renewals–Vale Dori has quietly made a name for herself, near the top of the Southern California distaff division. She still has some questions to answer later this year, but for now, her career reached an apex with a gutsy defeat of champion Finest City (City Zip).

Slightly favored over the GI Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner when the gates were sprung, Vale Dori wasn’t the best away, but got her feet back under her and kicked up along the inside to take up the running just in advance of Finest City, who was in no particular hurry to press past. With Rafael Bejarano asking Vale Dori to do just enough to maintain a narrow advantage, Finest City tried to make a race of it as they hit the top of the second turn and the two were more or less on even terms at the head of the lane. But, having rationed out even fractions and reasonably confident he was on the horse with the superior stamina, Bejarano shook up Vale Dori, who opened a bit of daylight and the Southern Hemisphere 4-year-old came away to a fairly easy score.
A Group 1 winner in her birth country, Vale Dori was second to TDN Rising Star Polar River (Congrats) in the G3 UAE Oaks and fourth to Lani (Tapit) in the G2 UAE Derby under the tutelage of Mike De Kock last winter. Left in another area code when 12 lengths third to Stellar Wind and Beholder in the GI Zenyatta S. last October, Vale Dori had rattled off four in a row in their absence, including Grade II scores in the Dec. 3 Bayakoa S. at Del Mar and in this track’s GII La Canada S. Jan. 14 and the Santa Maria S. Feb. 11.

“She was definitely ready today,” winning rider Rafael Bejarano remarked. “I knew Finest City would be tough but I was only thinking about the break. [Vale Dori] was more focused today, more consistent. She broke beautifully from the gate.”

Bejarano added, “Today was the first time I think that she was pressured almost the whole race. She showed me a lot of power, a lot of heart.”

Pedigree Notes:
Sheikh Khalifa also campaigned Vale Dori’s sire to win the UAE Derby in 2007 and Round 3 of the G2 Maktoum Challenge in 2009. He was also runner-up to Curlin in the 2008 G1 Dubai World Cup. Sent to Kiaran McLaughlin in the second half of 2009, he was runner-up in the GI Stephen Foster H. and in the GII Suburban H. in four appearances.

Saturday, Santa Anita
SANTA MARGARITA S.-GI, $401,035, SA, 3-18, 4yo/up, f/m, 1 1/8m, 1:48.81, ft.
1–VALE DORI (ARG), 122, m, 5, by Asiatic Boy (Arg)
1st Dam: Valerina (Arg), by Halo Sunshine
2nd Dam: Valereusse (Arg), by Equalize
3rd Dam: Valery Toss (Arg), by Egg Toss
O-Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum; B-Abolengo
(ARG); T-Bob Baffert; J-Rafael Bejarano. $240,000. Lifetime
Record: GISW-Arg, GSP-UAE, 13-8-3-1, $934,943.Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Finest City, 120, m, 5, City Zip–Be Envied, by Lemon Drop Kid.
($50,000 Wlg ’12 KEENOV; $85,000 Ylg ’13 KEESEP). O-Seltzer
Thoroughbreds; B-HnR Nothhaft Horseracing LLC (PA); T-Ian
Kruljac. $80,000.
3–Autumn Flower, 120, m, 5, Flower Alley–Sharplaw Autumn,
by Red Ransom. O-Traver, Thomas J. and Webb, Priscilla;
B-Traver & Webb (KY); T-Dan L. Hendricks. $48,000.
Margins: 1HF, 9HF, HD. Odds: 1.30, 1.60, 59.90.
Also Ran: Lady Tapit, Estrechada (Arg), Wild At Heart, Perfect Pic, Show Stealer. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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