Vale Dori Pulls Shocker in G1 Zenyatta
Courtesy of Curtis Kalleward of RacingDudes.com
ARCADIA, CA – Winless in over 16 months, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s Vale Dori attended the early pace before taking command at the top of the stretch, then held off a late rally from La Force to take Sunday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
The Zenyatta is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Vale Dori receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Distaff at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Breaking sharply from post 4 under Joe Talamo at 11/1 odds, Vale Dori stalked off the rail while Shenandoah Queen posted fractions of :23.98, :48.02, and 1:12.35. Making her bid in the far turn, Vale Dori emerged onto the stretch with a slight lead and began inching away in midstretch. Though La Force was closing quickly along the outside, the Bob Baffert trainee proved too good to lose, winning by 3/4 of a length in a final time of 1:44.88 for the 9-furlong main track event.
Shenandoah Queen weakened in the stretch run but held third by 2 1/4 lengths over Lemoona. Perhaps the day's biggest surprise was how poorly the 1/9 favorite Abel Tasman ran. The Distaff division leader struggled to load into the gate, broke poorly, and never ran better than fifth, which is where she finished, 10 1/2 lengths behind her winning stablemate. Fool's Paradise completed the order of finish.
Vale Dori's win was her first since taking the Grade 3 Adoration Stakes here on May 7 and improved her overall record to 21-10-6-2. The 5-year-old Argentinian-bred daughter of Asiatic Boy increased her lifetime earnings to $1,365,567.
Vale Dori returned $24.60 to win, $13.20 to place, and $40.60 to show. La Force brought back $8.40 to place and $14.60 to show, while Shenandoah Queen paid $26.60 to show. The large show payout discrepancies were due to Abel Tasman having collected $432,344 of the $474,680 total show pool.
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