03/31/2012 5:01PM

Gulfstream: Grace Hall redeems herself with impressive Oaks score

Barbara D. Livingston
Grace Hall's Saturday win makes her the filly to beat in the Kentucky Oaks.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Grace Hall likely established herself the favorite for the Kentucky Oaks after drawing off to an easy and extremely impressive 6 1/2-length  victory over the previously undefeated Zo Impressive in Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks.

Grace Hall, whose only defeat at 2 came at the hands of the champion My Miss Aurelia in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, bounced back in the Grade 2 Oaks from a surprising neck setback to longshot Yara when launching her 3-year-old campaign here in the Grade 2 Davona Dale.

With Javier Castellano replacing the injured Ramon Dominguez in the saddle, Grace Hall rated kindly off the early pace of Yara in the nine-furlong Oaks while kept well off the inside rail. Grace Hall had been pinned down near the inside throughout the Davona Dale.

Grace Hall moved readily to overtake Yara while remaining wide leaving the quarter pole, then pulled away with complete authority when set down by Castellano at the head of the stretch. Zo Impressive, undefeated and virtually unchallenged in two previous starts, rallied wide and behind the winner turning for home but proved no match for the favorite while easily second best.

Hearts of Red saved ground for seven furlongs, eased out at the head of the stretch and outfinished The Cat’s All That by a nose to be third.

Grace Hall, trained by Anthony Dutrow, completed the distance in 1:49.36 seconds over a fast track and returned $4.40 as the solid favorite in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies.

          “I’ve been down this road so many times and you never know what could happen but I was confident she was ready to run her best race today,” said Tony Dutrow who trains Grace Hall for the partnership of Michael Dubb, Bethlehem  Stables and The Elkstone Group. “I made no excuses for her last time but I know Grace Hall is happier when she’s on the outside. She had a fantastic trip and proved what she’s capable of today.”

          When asked if he thought Grace Hall would be favored in the Kentucky Oaks, Dutrow replied, “that’s a performance they’re going to bet on.”