09/28/2011 1:24PM

Breeders' Cup: Grace Hall to get final Juvenile Fillies prep in Blue Hen

Tom Keyser
Spinaway winner Grace Hall will run in Saturday's $75,000 Blue Hen at Delaware.

A $75,000 stakes at Delaware Park might seem an unconventional path to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, but for Grade 1 Spinaway winner Grace Hall, the race is perfectly logical.

Unbeaten in two starts, Grace Hall will run Saturday at Delaware in the Blue Hen Stakes, an ungraded route at a mile and 70 yards that trainer Anthony Dutrow considers ideal.

“I wanted to get some two-turn experience into her,” Dutrow said. “It’s nice and easy, and it sets up a good scenario. It works well for us.”
Grace Hall won first out going six furlongs July 30 at Delaware and followed with a solid victory Sept. 4 in the seven-furlong Spinaway at Saratoga. The challenge was finding a suitable bridge to the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup.

The Grade 1 Frizette on Oct. 8 at Belmont is a one-turn mile, and the Grade 1 Alcibiades on Oct. 7 at Keeneland is on Polytrack. The other alternative was train Grace Hall into the Breeders’ Cup.

“None of those were really making us happy,” Dutrow said.

With her starting berth in the Juvenile Fillies already secured by a Grade 1 win, Dutrow had the option of dropping Grace Hall into a non-graded stakes at her home track, while giving her experience running long. As a daughter of Empire Maker, she should love it.

“We’re not counting our chickens, we’re not making predictions,” Dutrow said Wednesday from Delaware. “But we think this gives us the best opportunity to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup.”

Joe Rocco Jr. rides Grace Hall on Saturday. She is the 6-5 program favorite breaking from post 6 in a seven-horse field. Dutrow said the mount is a one-race deal for Rocco.

Others in the Juvenile Fillies division will follow tradition by making their final prep race in a graded stakes. For fillies such as California-based Egg Drop, whose only start was against maidens, a good effort in a graded stakes is necessary to make it into the Breeders’ Cup lineup.

Egg Drop won her only start Sept. 3 on Polytrack at Del Mar. Trainer Mike Mitchell could have kept her home to run Sunday in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes on the Santa Anita dirt track. Instead, he will ship her to Keeneland for the Alcibiades.

“There are two reasons,” Mitchell said, explaining the ship. “One is it is $400,000 versus $200,000. Secondly it’s synthetic, and I know she can run on synthetic.”

Egg Drop’s rivals in the Alcibiades are expected to include Rocket Twentyone and Essence of Bubbles, one-two finishes in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie on Sept. 20 at Arlington.

The Grade 1 Oak Leaf on Sunday at Santa Anita is expected to include Del Mar Debutante one-two finishers Weemissfrankie and Self Preservation. Sister Moon, who earned a 92 Beyer first out, is not expected to start. The Frizette on Oct. 8 at Belmont is expected to include Stopshoppingmaria and My Miss Aurelia.

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