Grace Hall rebounded from an upset loss last time out to win the $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks (G2) by a commanding margin at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
Michael Dubb and partners’ 3-year-old daughter of Empire Maker more than atoned for finishing second as the odds-on choice in her first start of the season in the Davona Dale Stakes (G2) on Feb. 25. Under Javier Castellano, who replaced in the injured Ramon Dominguez in the saddle, Grace Hall reported home on top in the Gulfstream Oaks by 6 ½ lengths.
Grace Hall enjoyed a pace-stalking trip early on in the 1 1/8-mile test. She took control of the race at the head of the lane and never looked back, although Castellano took a confident glance behind on the far turn. Live Oak Plantations Zo Impressive, undefeated in two starts prior to Saturday, rallied late for second. Hearts of Red finishing third in the field of eight.
“I didn’t make any excuses for her getting beat last time and gave the winner (Yara) credit,” said Dutrow, referring to Grace Hall’s neck defeat as the 4-to-5 favorite in the Davona Dale, her first start since finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.
“Today, I was confident that she would run a big race and it set up perfect,” he added. “She is happier outside in the clear (as opposed to racing inside when second to Yara in the Davona Dale). We’ll point her for the Kentucky Oaks (May 4 at Churchill Downs). We know she’s happy here training at Palm Meadows and we’ll keep her there until at least Apr. 15.”
Grace Hall paid $4.40 for $2 to win as the favorite and was timed nine furlongs in 1:49:36 over the ‘fast’ track.
Grace Hall/Coglianese photo