Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum's Vale Dori extended her winning streak to six May 7 in the $100,000 Adoration Stakes (G3) but needed every bit of stamina to hold off up-and-comer Skye Diamonds.
After stalking the pace of Sensitively early, Vale Dori pulled clear in the stretch during the 1 1/16-mile test, but Tom Acker, Allen Racing, and Bloom Racing Stables' Skye Diamonds was up to the task.
The 4-year-old First Dude filly made up 1 1/2 lengths in the final furlong, but could not get past the grade 1 winner, who held on to win by a half-length under jockey Rafael Bejarano. The top pair finished 9 3/4 lengths clear of Sensitively.
"She needed that stretch run," winning trainer Bob Baffert said of Vale Dori, who won the Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) last time out March 18. "I've been sort of light with her. I wasn't even sure if I was going to run her here and I decided to throw her in. I'd rather just run her than work her."
Sensitively set fractions of :23.65, :47.25, and 1:11.15 through six furlongs, before Vale Dori took over to run a mile in 1:35.74 and hit the wire in 1:42.35 on a wet-fast, sealed track.
"There were no excuses," Bejarano said. "I broke beautifully and I put her right there. I knew (Sensitively) was going to go, so I let her go. I just tried to get my horse settled—get her comfortable. ... I was a little worried Skye Diamonds was going to get us."
Like Vale Dori, Skye Diamonds carried a win streak into the Adoration—albeit at lower levels. The Bill Spawr trainee won two optional-claiming allowance races in the winter before she took her first stakes—the Dream of Summer at a mile for California-breds March 26 at Santa Anita—but the Adoration was her longest race to date.
"She was coming," Spawr said. "A few more jumps and I think she'd have got there."
Baffert said Vale Dori—a 5-year-old daughter of Asiatic Boy who was bred in Argentina by Abolengo out of the Halo Sunshine mare Valerina and now has $994,943 in earnings—will make her next start in the Beholder Mile (G1) June 3, when she could encounter champions Songbird and Stellar Wind.
"Our little filly ... you could tell she needed that race," Baffert said. "Next time we'll be ready. Her class got her through today. At least we found out that we can sit off and don't have to be completely up there (on the pace)."