- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
Grace Hall returns in Davona Dale
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Grace Hall is set to launch her sophomore campaign on Saturday as the probable favorite and horse to beat in the Grade 2, $250,000 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 1 1/16-mile race has drawn nine total runners, including Disposablepleasure, who will be Grace Hall's main threat.
Grace Hall will use the Davona Dale as a springboard to bigger and better things this spring, namely the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks back at Churchill Downs. The Tony Dutrow-trained daughter of Empire Maker is no stranger to top-notch company, having captured the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga and two races later suffering her first loss behind eventual champion two-year-old filly My Miss Aurelia in the Breeders' Cup.
Ramon Dominguez was aboard for both of those races, and retains the mount on Grace Hall for the Davona Dale.
"We've had this race picked out for her comeback for some time," Dutrow said Wednesday morning. "Everything in her training has gone on schedule. She's filled out and matured mentally from last year to now. The goal for her is the Kentucky Oaks and hopefully this will be the first step to get her there."
Disposablepleasure will also be making her first start of the season after closing out her juvenile campaign with a hard-fought head victory in the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct on November 26. The gray daughter of Giacomo broke her maiden by 11 lengths at Belmont Park in early October after a fourth-place debut on turf at Saratoga and runner-up effort on the main track at Monmouth Park. Trainer Todd Pletcher will give a leg up to Julien Leparoux on Disposablepleasure.
Also in with a chance is Captivating Lass, who owns an edge on recent form after winning the Busanda Stakes on January 7 at Aqueduct and shipping down to Palm Meadows shortly thereafter. The Kentucky homebred by A.P. Indy won her career debut at Parx in October, but finished a non-threatening seventh behind Disposablepleasure in the Demoiselle. John Velazquez will be aboard the Kiaran McLaughlin runner.
Frolic's Revenge will be returning to the main track in Saturday's race, having captured the Ginger Brew Stakes and run third in the Sweetest Chant Stakes, both on the grass at Gulfstream Park. Prior to that, the Vindication filly never factored when running ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies but did take the Lindsay Frolic Stakes on Calder's dirt by 4 3/4 lengths in August. Trainer Marty Wolfson has sent his dark bay charge out to a pair of bullet works on Calder's main track recently, and Frolic's Revenge will get Juan Leyva in the irons.
Stakes winner Yara, a well-beaten fourth in the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes last out, and Salad Girl, triumphant in the Gasparilla Stakes in her return on January 14 at Tampa Bay Downs, are also entered in the Davona Dale.