If not for a couple of races at Churchill Downs, Grace Hall would be one of the top rated horses in the nation. Not that her performances in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies or this spring’s Kentucky Oaks were poor, but finishing 2nd of 14 and 3rd of 14 respectively in her two most important races were not quite good enough to put the sophomore daughter of Empire Maker at the very top of her peer group. Now after a brief freshening it appears the Anthony Dutrow trained miss may be ready to make another run at moving to the pinnacle among 2012 three-year-old fillies. With ten weeks between her last start in the Kentucky Oaks and yesterday’s date at Delaware Park, Grace Hall may have been a bit of a forgotten entity, but one minute and forty-two seconds after they sprung the gates for the $400,000 Delaware Oaks, she was forgotten no more. Her winning performance was impressive enough for me to name her ZATT’s Star of the Week.
Content to sit in fourth place early behind the pacesetter Wicked Mizz, Grace Hall was never too far behind the stalking fillies, Amie's Dini and Aubby K. When asked for run on the far turn, she took up the chase on the outside. The odds-on choice in the field of five, Grace Hall quickly took command at the top of the stretch under rider Javier Castellano and rolled home to an authoratative 3 3/4 length win over California invader Via Villaggio, while stopping the teletimer in 1:42.59 for the 1 1/16 miles on the fast strip.
Co-owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and The Elkstone Group, the sparkling Delaware Oaks victory was the fifth in a career that has now seen her collect four stakes wins, and never finish worse than third in eight lifetime starts. The winner’s share of the purse also allowed her to become racing’s newest millionaire.
Assuming that things go as planned, Grace Hall will now be pointed for the historic Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, according to Dutrow. A win there would likely see her become the leader of a division that is still looking for a filly to take charge.