DELAWARE OAKS | PURSE: $400,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 2 | 1 1/16 MILES
In what will likely be remembered as the most visually impressive race of the weekend, Grace Hall left her foes in the dust while taking the $400,000 Delaware Oaks by 3 ¾ lengths July 14 at Delaware Park.
Sent off as the 2-5 favorite in a group of five 3-year-old fillies, the daughter of Empire Maker settled well in fourth for jockey Javier Castellano after getting off a tick slow in the 1 1/16-mile test. Wicked Mizz took the field through a quarter in :23.60 and a half in :47.50, pressured by Amie's Dini, who engaged for the lead leaving the turn after three-quarters in 1:12.30. Aubby K also prompted the pace while racing three wide but faded in the drive.
Swinging four wide off the turn, Grace Hall absolutely inhaled the field through a mile in 1:12.30 and was quickly 2 ½ lengths ahead at the top of the lane. She increased her advantage with authoritative strides, powering to the front under Castellano's confident hand ride.
Via Villaggio lodged her bid from the outside but was clearly second-best. Amie's Dini held on for third. Aubby K and Wicked Mizz completed the order of finish; Morrow Cove and Singletscratched.
It was the first Delaware Oaks win for trainer Anthony Dutrow, who has conditioned horses at the eastern oval for more than 19 years.
Grace Hall returned $2.80, $2.40, and $2.10 while Via Villaggio brought $4.40 and $2.60. Amie's Dini paid $2.60.
Bred in Kentucky by Darley out of the Ezzoud mare Season's Greetings, Grace Hall bumped her earnings past the million mark to $1,140,000 from eight starts, with a 5-2-1 record for owners Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, and The Elkstone Group. That single third-place finish came in the Kentucky Oaks this year; earlier she won the March 31 Gulfstream Oaks and was second by a neck to Yara in the Feb. 25 Davona Dale Stakes.
Her 2011 season included three straight victories–a maiden score at Delaware, the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, and the Blue Hen Stakes back at Delaware -- before a second in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.