Vale Dori wins the 2016 Bayakoa Handicap

Vale Dori wins the 2016 Bayakoa Handicap

Benoit Photo

Vale Dori Impressive in Bayakoa Victory

Argentine-bred earned first graded stakes win.

Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum's Vale Dori continued to impress on U.S. soil with a clear victory in the $200,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. III) Dec. 3 at Del Mar

Video: Bayakoa H. (G2)

Since relocating stateside to the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert after beginning her career in Argentina and racing twice in Dubai earlier this year, the Asiatic Boy filly has rarely disappointed. She's won three of five starts in Southern California, with a tough-luck loss to Gloryzapper in her U.S. debut in August and a third-place run behind champions Stellar Wind and Beholder in the Zenyatta (gr. I) her only losses.

On Saturday, Vale Dori tracked Gloryzapper early in the 1 1/16-mile test, breezed by the frontrunner in the final turn, and kicked away to win by three lengths. Runner-up Wild At Heart and jockey Javier Castellano finished three-quarters of a length ahead of longshot Moyo Honey.

"I was surprised to find out how much horse I had," jockey Mike Smith said of the 4-year-old. "I gave her one little bit of encouragement and she just threw me back in my seat. She's got some kick. She's going to get better, too.

"I got on this filly when they first brought her here and she was all nervous. But now she's cool and calm. Have to give a lot of credit to Bob and his crew. They've brought her far along." 

Gloryzapper set fractions of :23.56, :47.68 and 1:12.41, but was under pressure by Vale Dori in the backstretch and began to tire in the final turn. Vale Dori took over to run a mile in 1:38.06 and hit the wire in 1:44.79.

"She did it like a (1-2) favorite should," said Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes. "We'll take that. It played out like I expected. I thought (Gloryzapper) would be out there and we'd be able to sit right off her, and that's the way it worked out."

Vale Dori now has a 5-3-1 record from 10 starts with earnings of $454,943. She was bred in Argentina by Abolengo, out of the Halo Sunshine mare Valerina.

The winner returned $3, $2.40, and $2.10 while Wild At Heart brought $4 and $3.40 and Moyo Honey paid $10.

"Good race for her; good effort," Castellano said of Wild At Heart, an Indian Charlie filly who returned to dirt for trainer Richard Mandella after an eighth in the Nov. 5 Senator Ken Maddy Stakes (gr. IIIT). "At the quarter pole, I'm thinking I can catch the winner. But then she just widened on us. The winner was too good. We were a good second best today."

Show Stealer closed from seventh to finish fourth, followed by Barbara Beatrice, Autumn Flower, Gloryzapper, and Desert Madam to complete the order of finish.