Alpha Delta Stable’s Grace Hall, the 118 lb. highweight, drew post position two of seven as she prepares to face a strong local contingent led by Tiz Miz Sue and Don’t Tell Sophia in Friday’s $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1). The 4-year-old Empire Maker filly and fellow Apple Blossom contender Summer Applause are scheduled to arrive from South Florida Monday morning on a Tex Sutton Flight that is also carrying Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned for the Oaklawn Handicap and the Todd Pletcher-trained Overanalyze for the Arkansas Derby.
Grace Hall has danced every major filly dance since hitting the track as a 2-year-old. She won the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga in her second career start and closed out her juvenile campaign with a second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Last year, she won the Gulfstream Oaks (G2), the Delaware Oaks (G2), was third in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and fourth behind older females in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (G1). She began this season with a third behind champion Royal Delta in the Sabin Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream in her most recent start.
“She is great,” said trainer Tony Dutrow by phone. “We are very happy with her. She’s about as good as she can be right now. After the last race, we could have been happier. It was a bad third, but the goal wasn’t to win the Sabin and we didn’t have her as ready to run that day as we do for this race. We are looking forward to getting back there. We love Oaklawn and it’s going to be a great couple of days there for sure.”
Grace Hall posted a bullet half mile in 47 at Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida Saturday, while Summer Applause posted the half mile bullet Sunday of 47 2/5, also at Palm Meadows. These two fillies will be coming to the track that Don’t Tell Sophia and Tiz Miz Sue have dominated all winter. Don’t Tell Sophia has already won the Pippen and Bayakoa Stakes this season and Tiz Miz Sue most recently won the Azeri Stakes (G3) for the second straight year. The complete field for the Apple Blossom, in program order, with riders and weights: Tiz Miz Sue, Joe Rocco Jr., 117; Grace Hall, Joel Rosario, 118; Don’t Tell Sophia, Robby Albarado, 116; Summer Applause, Rajiv Maragh, 117; She’s All In, Luis Quinonez, 114; On Fire Baby, Joe Johnson, 115, and Bryan’s Jewel, Derek Bell, 112.