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Aug 17, 2012

Grace Hall and Questing headline Alabama


Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Delaware Oaks winner Grace Hall and Coaching Club American Oaks champ Questing top a field of seven for Saturday's $600,000 Alabama Stakes for three-year-old fillies at Saratoga Race Course.

Owned by Michael Dubb, Grace Hall will start from post three with Javier Castellano again in the saddle. The Alabama will be the filly's first attempt at the classic distance of 1 1/4 miles.

"I have been very happy with her getting a mile and an eighth," said trainer Tony Dutrow, "and I really don't have any concerns other than to hope that she will get the mile and a quarter. But we're feeling really good about the distance with her. But I've got to talk intelligently, and until a horse has done something, I think we're all just taking a real good guess. But, once again, I'm feeling good about the distance of the race."

Grace Hall captured the Gulfstream Oaks on March 31 after beginning 2012 with a second in the Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park. She was third in the Kentucky Oaks behind Believe You Can who will not run on Saturday after being given time off.

"Grace Hall is coming into this race excellent," Dutrow noted during Tuesday's conference call. "I don't feel that, I, all of us around her working around, we think she's getting better. We truly think she's getting better. She's showing us that she's getting better. I hope that actually happens, but as far as what we're seeing from Grace Hall is everything we'd want to see."

Grace Hall won last year's Spinaway at Saratoga and is coming off a 3 3/4 length victory in the Delaware Oaks. She has banked $1.14 million with five wins in eight career starts.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will saddle Questing for the Alabama with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. riding from post six. The filly is owned by Godolphin Racing.

Questing won the Coaching Club by 4 1/4 lengths in front-running fashion. Following three starts in England to begin her two-year-old campaign, the filly finished fifth in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies behind My Miss Aurelia and Grace Hall.

The daughter of Hard Spun has won three of eight lifetime starts for $314,876.

Here is the field for the Alabama in post position order: Sea Island, Joel Rosario; Zo Impressive, Rajiv Maragh; Grace Hall, Javier Castellano; Uptown Bertie, Corey Lanerie; Via Villaggio, Corey Nakatani, Questing, Irad Ortiz, Jr. and In Lingerie, John Velazquez.

Post-time for the 132nd Alabama will be 5:46 p.m. (ET).

Recent winners of the race include Royal Delta, Blind Luck, Careless Jewel and Proud Spell.

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