Grace Hall
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Grace Hall
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Dave Harmon

Grace Hall Demands Attention in Apple Blossom

Grade I winner ships from Florida to face Summer Applause, Tiz Miz Sue at Oaklawn.

Grade I winner Grace Hall, seeking her first win of the 2013 campaign, will face six opponents in the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) April 12 at Oaklawn Park as the 118-pound top weight.

The four-time graded stakes winner drew post 2 for trainer Tony Dutrow and owner Alpha Delta Stable. Joel Rosario will be aboard.

The 1 1/16-mile Apple Blossom, part of Oaklawn's "Racing Festival of the South," is the 10th of an 11-race card on the Friday program with a 6:16 p.m. CDT scheduled post.

Oaklawn reported that Grace Hall and fellow Apple Blossom contender Summer Applause are scheduled to arrive from Florida on the morning of April 8. The same Tex Sutton Flight is carrying Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Fort Larned  for the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) and the Todd Pletcher-trained Overanalyze  for the Arkansas Derby (gr. I).

Grace Hall comes into the Apple Blossom off a third-place effort in the Sabin Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 17 at Gulfstream Park. In her first start since running fourth in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) Nov. 3, she finished 8 1/2 lengths behind the heavily favored Royal Delta after racing five paths wide and failing to improve her position.

"She is great," Dutrow said of the 4-year-old Empire Maker filly. "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."

A six-time winner from 12 starts lifetime with earnings of more than $1.4 million, Grace Hall captured the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at 2 and the Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II), Delaware Oaks (gr. II), and Indiana Oaks (gr. II) last year.

She posted a half-mile work in :47.09 at Palm Meadows Training Center April 6.

Summer Applause ships in for trainer Chad Brown after taking the Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) March 2 as a 13-10 favorite at Aqueduct Racetrack by nearly three lengths.

The 4-year-old daughter of Harlan's Holiday appears to have retained her sharpness after a bullet half-mile breeze in :47.55 at Palm Meadows April 7, best of 34 at the distance. Rajiv Maragh has the mount from gate 3 for a partnership that includes breeder Greenwood Lodge Farm.

Don't Tell Sophia and Tiz Miz Sue head the local contingent. Don't Tell Sophia has already won the Pippen and Bayakoa stakes at the current meet for trainer Philip Sims and ran second to Tiz Miz Sue in the Azeri Stakes (gr. III) March 16.

Sims owns the 5-year-old Congaree  mare in partnership with Jerry Namy. She is a six-time winner from 13 races.

Cresran homebred Tiz Miz Sue scored an 8-1 upset in the Azeri by 1 1/4 lengths for trainer Steve Hobby. The 6-year-old Tiznow  mare snapped a six-race losing streak while rallying from fourth on the far turn to win the 1 1/16-mile trip with a strong closing kick. She also won the Azeri in 2012, leading to a third-place showing in the Apple Blossom, 2 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Plum Pretty

Multiple graded stakes winner On Fire Baby is entered for her first start of the year by trainer Gary Hartlage. Anita Cauley's 4-year-old homebred filly by Smoke Glacken, winner of Oaklawn's Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) last season, has not raced since finishing fourth in the TVG Acorn Stakes (gr. I) May 28 at Belmont Park.

Bryan's Jewel, cross-entered in the $100,000 Carousel a day before the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn, and She's All In, under consideration for the $200,000 Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) April 20 at Hawthorne Race Course, are not certain to start in the Apple Blossom.

$500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I, Race 10, 6:16 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Tiz Miz Sue (KY), J Rocco Jr., 117, S Hobby
2. Grace Hall (KY), J Rosario, 118, A W Dutrow
3. Don't Tell Sophia (KY), R Albarado, 116, P A Sims
4. Summer Applause (KY), R Maragh, 117, C C Brown
5. She's All In (OK), L S Quinonez, 114, D K Von Hemel
6. On Fire Baby (KY), J M Johnson, 115, G G Hartlage
7. Bryan's Jewel (KY), D C Bell, 112,     M Robertson