Grace Hall Turns in Final Pre-Alabama Work
Grace Hall, one of four grade I winners pointing to the Aug. 18 Alabama Stakes (gr. I), had her final serious work prior to the 1 1/4-mile race this morning, breezing four furlongs at Delaware Park in :49.40.
"She had a really good workout in company eight days ago, and she came into today's workout very well; she was the same Grace Hall," trainer Tony Dutrow said of the 3-year-old Empire Maker filly. "She worked by herself, from the 4 1/2-furlong pole, with a strong gallop out. We're feeling very good about her. She seemed to come back to the barn and cool out in excellent shape."
Grace Hall, who won last year's Spinaway (gr. I) for owner Michael Dubb, is scheduled to arrive at Saratoga late the morning of Aug. 13, said Dutrow.
"We've chosen this path because we had her experience being at Saratoga the whole meet last year," said Dutrow. "We're happy with how she's prepared for the Alabama and the choices we've made. I don't feel like we're swimming in uncharted waters."
Grace Hall has been first, second, or third in all eight career starts, including victories this year in the Delaware Oaks (gr. II) and the Gulfstream Oaks (gr. II). She also finished second in the Davona Dale (gr. II) at Gulfstream and third in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) behind Believe You Can, who is also pointing to the Alabama.
TVG Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) winner Questing, Mother Goose (gr. I) winner Zo Impressive, Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) winner In Lingerie, Iowa Oaks (gr. III) winner Uptown Bertie, Railbird (gr. III) winner Via Villaggio and the Shug McGaughey-trained Sea Island, impressive winner of an optional claimer on July 26, are among those expected for Saturday's race.
"The Coaching Club was a big race, the Kentucky Oaks was a big race, and this is a big race," said Dutrow. "You have four grade I winners anticipated in running, and the winner of this race will make a bold statement as to the division."
In Lingerie was the other Alabama contender to turn in an Aug. 12 breeze at the Spa. Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber, she covered four furlongs in :48.70 seconds.
Via Villaggio also worked Aug. 12 at Del Mar in preparation for the $600,000 Alabama, going five furlongs in 1:03.60 under jockey Corey Nakatani. The daughter of Bernardini won the Railbird at seven furlongs in May at Betfair Hollywood Park. In her most recent start on July 14, Via Villaggio finished second to Grace Hall in the Delaware Oaks, her first race on dirt since she began her career last fall making two starts on California fair circuit tracks.
"We're definitely coming," Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. "It was a very nice work, nice and easy. Our rider, Corey Nakatani, worked her and we're all ready to go."
Via Villaggio, who races for Steve Beneto, is expected to arrive at Saratoga Aug. 14.
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