Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Grace Hall tops Blue Hen Stakes

Stanton, Del., September 27, 2011 — Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and The Elkstone Group’s locally-stabled Grace Hall, the recent winner of the Grade I Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga, tops the $75,000 Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware Park this Saturday. The mile-and-70-yard affair for 2-year-old fillies has attracted a field of seven.

In her most recent effort, the daughter of Empire Maker became the 23rd graded stakes winner since 2002 to break their maiden at Delaware Park when she notched a 1 ¾-length triumph in the seven-furlong $250,000 Spinaway Stakes on September 4. In her only other career outing the Kentucky-bred conditioned by Anthony Dutrow notched a three-length score in a six-furlong maiden at Delaware Park on July 30. She will be ridden by Joseph Rocco Jr., and she has been installed as the 6-to-5 morning-line favorite.

“The big thing is I want to get some two-turn experience into her,” said trainer Anthony Dutrow. “It is not easy to find a two-turn spot for her because New York has the one-turn stakes and I could have gone to Keeneland, but I wanted to keep her on the dirt. It is as simple as that, I want to get some two-turn experience in her and it was in our own backyard. She is running here on Saturday.”

Anthony Dutrow has had more than one of the 23 who have broken their maidens to go on to win a graded stakes.

“It is really amazing that there have so many young really good horses that broken their maidens here,” he said. “It is really not a fluke if you look at the large number of good horsemen around here. There are some good solid trainers in the area that is for sure.”

Brereton Jones’ Believe You Can rates as the second choice. In her last, the daughter of Proud Citizen scored a 4 ½-length triumph in a six-furlong allowance at Delaware Park on August 16. Previously, the Kentucky-bred conditioned by J. Larry Jones broke her maiden by notching a neck victory in a six-furlong maiden at Delaware Park on July 12. In her only other outing, she finished fourth in a five-furlong maiden at Monmouth Park on June 26.

“She is doing well,” said trainer J. Larry Jones. “We have quite a bit of high hopes on Believe You Can. She has always trained well. She did not have a great race her first time, but she had a few excuses. But after that, she has done real well, so we are expecting good things from her.”

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