Grade 2 winner Grace Hall hasn't raced in 13 months but she makes her long-awaited return in the $250,000 Ruffian Stakes, part of the Mother's Day stakes bill at Belmont Park May 11.
Winner of the 2011 Spinaway Stakes at 2 and victorious three times at the Grade 2 level as a 3-year-old, Grace Hall came out of the Apple Blossom Stakes in April 2013 with a fractured coffin bone in her right front foot. The even-money favorite in the Apple Blossom, in which she faded to last, the imposing bay was one of the top older fillies in the nation at the time of her injury.
Now 5, the Empire Maker mare returns to action for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott after racing earlier for Tony Dutrow. Since her recovery, she has been in training at Payson Park and recently returned to Belmont. She breezed a half mile in :48.04 on the main track May 5.
Grace Hall, to be ridden from post 5 by Josel Rosario while carrying co-top weight of 123 pounds, brings a career mark of 6-2-2 in 13 races with earnings of $1,416,360 into her comeback try.
A field of six older fillies and mares are set for the one-mile Ruffian, which precedes the Man o' War Stakes on a Belmont card that also includes the Westchester Stakes. The scheduled Ruffian post time is 4:57 p.m. EDT as race 7.
Mott previously won the Ruffian in 1984 with Heatherten. The race was a Grade 1 event prior to last year's renewal.
Grace Hall will encounter some tough opponents in her return, led by My Wandy's Girl and Fiftyshadesofhay.
Guillermo Berrios' My Wandy's Girl makes her first start for trainer Mike Hushion since capturing the Barbara Fritchie Handicap Feb. 22 at Laurel Park. The 5-year-old daughter of Flower Alley ran second in last year's Ruffian, finishing three-quarters of length behind Withgreatpleasure.
My Wandy's Girl has raced just twice since then, finishing fifth in the Garland of Roses Stakes Dec. 7 before winning the seven-furlong Fritchie by one length. Training at Belmont Park, she posted a bullet half-mile move of :46.89 May 5, best of 46 at the distance. It was her fifth work since the Fritchie.
To be ridden by Rajiv Maragh from post 2 while carrying 123, My Wandy's Girl was a star in Puerto Rico before coming to the United States in the fall of 2012, winning 13 races including a pair of Grade 1 events. Her career mark stands at 15-4-2 in 23 races with earnings of $573,710.
Hushion also entered Barry Schwartz's Parc Monceau, stepping into stakes company for the first time off a 5 ¾-length romp over first-level allowance foes.
Also toting 123 is multiple graded stakes winner Fiftyshadesofhay, looking to snap a five-race losing streak for trainer Bob Baffert and owner Mike Pegram. The 4-year-old Pulpit filly's last win came in the Iowa Oaks last June at Prairie Meadows.
In her most recent start, Fiftyshadesofhay weakened to finish sixth of seven in the Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 15 after battling on the front end to the quarter pole. John Velazquez picks up the mount from the far outside post.
Stakes winner Toasting was last of seven in her most recent start, the Inside Information at Gulfstream Park March 22. The Thomas Albertrani trainee, owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, owns a pair of wins at Belmont Park including the Dream Rush Stakes last October.
Godolphin Stable is represented by Six Queens, a lightly raced 5-year-old daughter of Bernardini making her stakes debut for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. She has three wins and a second in four lifetime starts.