Monday arrival for Grace Hall at SaratogaAug 13, 2012 - 4:45 PM Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Three-year-old filly Grace Hall is scheduled to arrive at Saratoga Race Course Monday ahead of Saturday's 1 1/4 mile Alabama Stakes. The filly is owned by Michael Dubb and trained by Tony 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 won last year's Spinaway at Saratoga and is coming off a 3 3/4 length victory in the Delaware Oaks. Sunday morning at Delaware Park she went four furlongs in 49.40 seconds.
"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," Dutrow noted after the workout. "She worked by herself, from the 4 1/2 (furlong pole), with a strong gallop out, and went from the half-mile pole to the wire in :49 2/5. We're feeling very good about her. She seemed to come back to the barn and cool out in excellent shape."
Along with the Delaware Oaks, Grace Hall captured the Gulfstream Oaks on March 31 after beginning 2012 with a second in the Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park. Sandwiched between the two victories was a third in the Kentucky Oaks behind another Alabama probable Believe You Can.
Other likely Alabama starters are Coaching Club American Oaks winner Questing, Mother Goose champ Zo Impressive, Black-Eyed Susan winner In Lingerie, Iowa Oaks champ Uptown Bertie and Delaware Oaks runner-up Via Villaggio.
"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 1 winners anticipated in running, and the winner of this race will make a bold statement as to the division."
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer had Via Villaggio work five furlongs Sunday morning in 1:03.60 at Del Mar for the $600,000 Alabama. The filly is expected to arrive at Saratoga on Tuesday.
"We're definitely coming," 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, owned by Steve Beneto, won the Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park on May 19 and was third five weeks later in the Hollywood Oaks.
Last year's Alabama was captured by 2011 champion filly Royal Delta who is on her way to claiming another Eclipse Award this year as top older female.
Two years ago the Alabama featured rival fillies Blind Luck and Havre de Grace. Eventual three-year-old champ Blind Luck caught Havre de Grace at the wire to win by a neck.
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