Grade I winner Grace Hall, a good second in her initial start in 13 months for trainer Bill Mott, ships to Southern California to take on a well-matched field in the $300,000 Vanity Stakes (gr. I) June 14 at Santa Anita Park.
The Vanity, along with the $400,000 Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT), headlines a strong Saturday card at Santa Anita. The Vanity, at 1 1/8 miles on dirt, follows the grassy Shoemaker as the eighth race on the program with a 4:30 p.m. PDT apprxoximate post time. Both the Vanity and Shoemaker are top-shelf holdovers from the Hollywood Park stakes schedule being contested for the first time at Santa Anita.
Grace Hall, a 5-year-old Empire Maker mare, comes off a runner-up finish to Fiftyshadesofhay in the Ruffian Stakes (gr. II) May 11 at Belmont Park. She was gradually getting to the winner that day off her lengthy absence after injuring a coffin bone, and figures to appreciate the return to two turns and an extra furlong in the Vanity.
Owned by Alpha Delta Stables, Grace Hall won the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course in her second start in 2011, and added victories in the Gulfstream Oaks (gr. II), Delaware Oaks (gr. II), and Indiana Oaks (gr. II) at 3. In addition she placed in both the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
In her only prior start at Santa Anita, Grace Hall was a distant fourth behind Royal Delta in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I). Joel Rosario retains the mount on Grace Hall, a six-time winner from from 14 starts with earnings of $1,466,360, who breaks from post 3 under 119 pounds.
The 124-pound high weight in the eight-horse field of older fillies and mares is Let Faith Arise, winner of the Santa Margarita Stakes (gr. I) in March. She comes off a game neck victory over Vanity rival Yahilwa in the 1 1/16-mile Adoration Stakes (gr. III) May 18.
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for owner/breeder Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, Let Faith Arise is a 4-year-old daughter of Kafwain that has won six of 12 starts in two seasons while banking $470,240. Corey Nakatani is back aboard.
Hollendorfer will also be represented by Scherzinger, winner two starts back of the Santa Monica Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs Jan. 25. Trying two turns for the first time in the Vanity, the adaptable 4-year-old Tiz Wonderful filly was most recently third, beaten five lengths in the seven-furlong Humana Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downs May 3 for Mark Dedominico and Hollendorfer.
The Vanity also marks the return of Hronis Racing's Iotapa to Southern California after tiring to sixth last time in the Humana Distaff for trainer John Sadler. She was a gate-to-wire winner of the Santa Maria Stakes (gr. II) locally in February and second to Let Faith Arise in the Santa Margarita when bet down to 7-5 favoritism. Iotapa, who drew the rail, is to be ridden by Joe Talamo.
Sadler also entered well-traveled Magic Union, who has run at seven different tracks in her past nine starts, her most recent a fourth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile La Troienne Stakes (gr. I) at Churchill Downs May 2. The 4-year-old filly by Dixie Union also runs for the Hronis brothers, but will be uncoupled in the wagering as she seeks her first stakes win.
Dismissed at 17-1, trainer DP Racing’s Yahilwa just missed stealing the Adoration and figures tough right back for trainer Jim Cassidy and jockey Kent Desormeaux. She'll likely have some company up front from the Jeff Bonde-trained multiple stakes winner Unusual Way as well as Iotapa and Scherzinger, who like to be forwardly placed.
Irish Presence, a distant third in the Adoration last time, completes the field.
$300,000 Vanity Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 4:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Iotapa (KY), J Talamo, 119, J W Sadler
2. Magic Union (KY), J Castellano, 119, J W Sadler
3. Grace Hall (KY), J Rosario, 119, W I Mott
4. Let Faith Arise (KY), C S Nakatani, 124, J Hollendorfer
5. Scherzinger (KY), E Trujillo, 119, J Hollendorfer
6. Yahilwa (KY), K J Desormeaux, 119, J M Cassidy
7. Irish Presence (KY), F H Perez, 119, D Velasquez
8. Unusual Way (CA), E A Maldonado, 119, J Bonde