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Jul 20, 2012

Grace Hall cruises in Delaware Oaks


Stanton, DE (Sports Network) - Odds-on favorite Grace Hall took command at the top of the stretch on her way to victory Saturday in the $400,000 Delaware Oaks for three-year-old fillies at Delaware Park. The victory was the first in the stakes for trainer Tony Dutrow.

Grace Hall, ridden by Javier Castellano, went off as the 2-5 favorite in the five horse field. Her entry mate Singlet was scratched as was Morrow Cove.

Setting the pace in the 1 1/16 mile stakes was Wicked Mizz followed closely by Amie's Dini, Aubby K and the favorite. California shipper Via Villaggio was trailing the field.

On the final turn Grace Hall, racing four wide, drew even with the pacesetter and took the lead entering the stretch with Aubby K in second. Beginning her rally from fifth was Via Villaggio and jockey Kent Desormeaux.

Grace Hall opened her lead inside the eighth pole and cruised to a 3 3/4 length win over Via Villaggio. The winner stopped the timer at 1:42.59 on a fast track.

Finishing third was Amie's Dini followed by Aubby K and Wicked Mizz who is also trained by Dutrow.

Co-owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and The Elkstone Group, Grace Hall recorded her fifth career victory in eight starts. The Oaks win was worth $240,000 to bring the three-year-old filly's lifetime earnings to $1,140,000.

Grace Hall was making her first start since finishing third in the Kentucky Oaks to Believe You Can at Churchill Downs on May 4.

"In the Kentucky Oaks, we did not have any excuses," Dutrow said. "She went into the race very well and obviously she ran well against the best fillies in training."

She began the year with a second in the Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 25. The filly followed five weeks later with a victory in the Gulfstream Park Oaks by 6 1/2 lengths.

Last year, Grace Hall won her first three starts, including the Spinaway at Saratoga and Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware Park. She was second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies behind My Miss Aurelia at Churchill Downs.

"If everything goes as planned, Grace Hall will point for the Alabama at Saratoga," Dutrow said.

This is the first Delaware Oaks victory for Dutrow, just two years after suffering a narrow loss in the race with Havre de Grace. His filly barely got beat by rival Blind Luck.

"Watching the race, I thought we won," said Dutrow. "But when I saw the photo for the win, it confirmed we had lost. It is still hard to believe, but those were two very very special fillies."

Grace Hall paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10. Via Villaggio returned $4.40 and $2.60, and Amie's Dini paid $2.60 to show.

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