Vale Dori won her third straight Grade 2 stakes on Saturday with a 1 3/4-length score in the Santa Maria S. at Santa Anita Park.
The win was the third in the Santa Maria for Vale Dori's trainer Bob Baffert, who captured the 2012 running with Ellafitz and the 2002 renewal with Favorite Funtime.
Vale Dori, the prohibitive 3-10 favorite off her two previous stakes wins, tussled with Midnight Toast until the midway point of the race, when she began to assert herself under Mike Smith.The 5-year-old was never under a serious threat from that point, winning with something in reserve in 1:43.19 for the 1 1/16-miles on the wet-fast racetrack.
“I don’t know (if she backed out),” Baffert said of Vale Dori acting up in the starting gate. “She jumped up and tried to flip or something. I don’t know what it was. Something got her, but she will do that. I missed some time with her during the rains, so she was coming in here a little bit fresher. We missed a lot of days when it was raining so we just took it easy with her. These races have been keeping her fit so I don’t have to do too much in between.
“We’re definitely looking at the Santa Margarita (next, Grade I, $400,000, 1 1/8 miles on March 18). That’s the plan.”
Vale Dori is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum and has now earned $694,943 with a record of 7-3-1 in 12 starts.