Vale Dori (ARG) affirmed her status as the top older filly or mare on the West Coast with an authoritative victory in the $400,000 Santa Margarita S. (G1) over last year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) winner Finest City.
Winner of three straight Grade 2 starts, Vale Dori took the fight to Finest City right out of the gate. The duo was right together through six furlongs in 1:12.21. Vale Dori began to inch away from her pursuer at the top of the stretch and hit the finish 1 1/2-lengths ahead of Finest City, with another 10 lengths back to the field.
“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,” said winning rider Rafael Bejarano. “I don’t think she minds coming from behind but (after) having a clean break, I just took it from there.
“I thought that from the first jump Finest City would be fast and would be on the lead. When I saw that she didn’t really want to go and didn’t relax into the first turn, I just took control and took advantage of (Vale Dori’s) speed.
Vale Dori, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, is now a four-time graded stakes winner of $943,943. She is Bob Baffert's first Santa Margarita winner.