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Tony Dutrow Wins Spinaway With Grace Hall

Trainer Tony Dutrow already had a nice horse for the Grade 1 Spinaway in Schuylerville runner-up True Feelings, but in the days leading up to entries for Sunday he mulled adding his maiden winner Grace Hall into the mix.

With recent longshot third-place finishes in the Alabama and Travers, Dutrow had been on a hot streak when it came to putting his horses in big-time races. The Spinaway, however, proved his crowning achievement when Grace Hall circled the leaders on the turn to win the 120th running of the famed race for 2-year-old fillies at Saratoga Race Course.

The day's races, on a T-shirt giveaway day, drew an announced crowd of 58,006.

Ridden by Ramon Dominguez, Grace Hall rushed from the gate and then settled comfortably in fourth when taken off the pace. After dueling leaders Born Bullish and Georgie's Angel zipped through a quarter-mile in 22.71 seconds and a half-mile in 45.96, favorite Judy the Beauty ranged up on the outside to challenge from her pace-pressing position in third and Grace Hall followed.

Judy the Beauty, under Jeffrey Sanchez, took the lead turning for home, but after bobbling briefly at the top of the lane, Grace Hall surged passed her on the outside under Dominguez' right-handed whip and pulled away to win by 1 ¾ lengths. Judy the Beauty was nine lengths clear of third-place finisher And Why Not.

Grace Hall, a bay daughter of Empire Maker owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and Stuart Grant, won in a time of 1:23.74. She paid $8.80 for a $2 win bet as the co-third choice in a field of eight.

In the winner's circle afterward, Dutrow stood beaming at his good fortune.

"I'm overwhelmed," the trainer said. "We don't get to do that much. I am so happy. Everybody in horse racing should live through what our team just lived through. We knew there was a lot of risk here. It was deep water. Being around her gave me the confidence to try her here today."

The victory moved owner Michael Dubb into a short-lived tie with Mike Repole for the lead in the chase for the meet owner's title at 15 wins apiece.

"We've had so much fun with this whole deal to tie him up with a Grade 1 win," Dubb said. "This is Saratoga. This is what we want to do."

Repole struck back in the very next race when his Silver Screamer won a turf sprint.

Grace Hall, however, owned the spotlight. Bred by Darley and purchased last fall at Keeneland for $95,000, she broke her maiden with a sharp three-length score on July 30 at Delaware Park.

Dutrow shipped her to Saratoga to join his primary string and put her through a series of four works, including a four-furlong breeze on the grass and culminating with a bullet blowout on August 30.

After making virtually all the pace in her debut, Grace Hall showed the ability to rate in the Spinaway.

"I was on her a couple of times just breezing, and she was very sensible in the morning," Dominguez said. "Tony expressed to me how much he liked her, and coming from him I knew she had to be special. Sure enough, she showed how good she is."

Judy the Beauty had entered the Spinaway undefeated in three starts at three tracks, having won at Keeneland, at Chantilly in France and at Woodbine in Canada. The race was her first on a dirt track, and she handled it well, according to trainer Wesley Ward.

"She ran really well," Ward said. "I'm really proud of her. This is the toughest race, historically, in the country to win for 2-year-old fillies. I'm disappointed but happy at the same time."

Georgie's Angel, who won the Schuylerville and also came into the race undefeated, finished fourth, followed by True Feelings, Baffle Me, Born Bullish and Lady Pecan.

The $150,000 winner's purse increased Grace Hall's lifetime earnings to $174,000.

Dutrow said he wasn't sure if his filly might advance next to the Grade 1, $300,000 Frizette on October 8 at Belmont Park.

Asked how many Grade 1 victories he has now after winning the Spinaway, Dutrow's grin grew wider. "Not enough," he said.


 
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