04/30/2012 2:14PM

Kentucky Oaks: Grace Hall can help Tony Dutrow gain limelight for his own deeds

Barbara D. Livingston
Grace Hall, one of the favorites for Friday's Kentucky Oaks, can provide Tony Dutrow with the biggest win of his long training career, perhaps creating the opportunity to get more top-caliber horses.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Tony Dutrow has won 1,675 races in a training career that has spanned 34 years. He has won 27 graded stakes, including five Grade 1’s, and his horses have earned $56 million in purse money.

Yet, Dutrow is probably best known as the older brother of trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who has developed the reputation as racing’s bad boy with a history of violations that have warranted fines and suspensions. He is currently appealing a 10-year-suspension handed him by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board for his indiscretions.

Tony Dutrow, who turned 54 last week, believes that the negativity associated with his brother has impacted him professionally.

“My opinion is that I don’t feel that the industry has overlooked me because of Ricky’s success,” Dutrow said in a recent interview at Aqueduct, where he is stabled six barns down from his brother. “But it is my strong opinion that the industry has deprived me of opportunities because of my last name. I think I have been unfairly judged by my last name. Yes, I do feel that way. I’m not upset with nobody, I’m not mad at nobody, I’m not disappointed in anybody, but that is a last name that people really don’t need to deal with.”

[KENTUCKY OAKS: Get PPs, watch analysis video, and read pre-race reports]

Friday, Dutrow has the opportunity to make a name for himself when he runs Grace Hall in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, a track at which his brother Rick is currently unable to participate.

While Tony Dutrow has won Grade 1 races such as the Ballerina, Spinaway, and Ogden Phipps, the Oaks – to Dutrow – is the type of signature race that could make a career.

“You need to win those races the whole world’s watching,” Dutrow said. “I’m trying to do it.”

Richard Dutrow has won those types of races. In 2008, he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with Big Brown. He won a Breeders’ Cup Classic with Saint Liam, who went on to be voted 2005 Horse of the Year. He has won two other Breeders’ Cup races, the Metropolitan Handicap, Champagne, and Suburban.

But Rick’s trouble with racing’s authority has some of the sport’s regulating bodies looking to prevent him from participating in the sport, something that doesn’t surprise Tony.

“If I was running horse racing I wouldn’t want that kind of conduct in my game,” Dutrow said. “I’m not picking on only Ricky.”

Tony is the alter ego to Rick. He is Abel to Rick’s Cain. Emilio Estevez to Rick’s Charlie Sheen. If they were chipmunks, Tony would be Simon to Rick’s Alvin.

“Tony’s a good guy,” Richard Dutrow said. “Everybody likes Tone, I wish I had his reputation.”

Richard Dutrow said that Tony was always the “overseer” for him and their brother Chip, who has also gotten into his share of trouble.

“He knows he was up against it with me and Chip,” Richard Dutrow said. “We never did anything that was over the top, just mischievous [stuff]. We got in and out of trouble but Tone was never in trouble, never. He’s always been a good guy.

“I’d love to see that filly win for him,” he continued. “He’s always trying to get there so maybe if he can win the race people would start sending him better horses; that would be nice.”

Dutrow has gotten his share of better horses and done well with them. In 2008, Dutrow was sent a filly, Seattle Smooth, who was 2 for 6 in Southern California. In Dutrow’s care, she went 5 for 6, including four graded stakes victories. In 2010, he trained the New York-bred Rightly So to 7 wins from 11 starts, including the Grade 1 Ballerina.

Dutrow was the first trainer to have Havre de Grace – the 2011 Horse of the Year – and he guided her to 3 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds, including a couple of heart-breaking losses to Blind Luck. He didn’t train the horse last year as owner Rick Porter turned her over to Larry Jones.

Tony Dutrow was briefly on the Derby trail in 2010 with Winslow Homer, who got hurt after winning the Holy Bull at Gulfstream.

“I think that a large majority of the horses when they join my barn they run faster,” Dutrow said. “I don’t think you’d get an argument from anybody in horse racing.

“They have run top races against the top horses, those are facts,” he continued. “Why haven’t I won a Derby or a Breeders’ Cup or some of those things? I wish somebody would tell me because I’d certainly try to practice it that way.”

The Oaks is a race Dutrow began thinking about for Grace Hall after she won the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga in September. Dutrow was not that keen on running her in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and only did so because his owners – Michael Dubb, Mike Caruso, and Stuart Grant – wanted to run. All were rewarded with a second-place finish to My Miss Aurelia in the Juvenile Fillies.

In two starts this year, Grace Hall has a runner-up finish in the Davona Dale and a 6 1/2-length romp in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. She will enter Friday’s Oaks as one of the favorites.

“Up to this point, in preparing her for the Oaks and all that goes with it, I absolutely couldn’t have dreamed anything any better, that’s how well it’s gone,” Dutrow said.

Dutrow currently has 120 horses in his care, split among New York, two facilities in Delaware, and Parx. Based on early reports he has received, this year’s crop of 2-year-olds may be the best he has ever had.

“The numbers and the quality are like I never had before,” Dutrow said.

Hopefully, with that, comes success like he has never had before.