MILTON, September 16, 2023 – Grace Hill, sent off as the 4-5 choice, was simply spectacular in the $220,000 Milton Stakes, for fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Off since a snappy 1:49.4 score at Scioto Downs on August 25, five-year-old Grace Hill paced back in the spotlight under the bright lights at the Milton oval off a pair of qualifiers and delivered one of the finest performances in her decorated career.
Boudoir Hanover, leaving from the outside post nine, blasted off the wings and crossed over to grab a short-lived lead into the first turn, but Silver Label forged on to seize control just before an opening panel timed in a lively :25.4. Doug McNair, in rein to Grace Hill, sized up the pacesetter from in third.
It was Silver Label still calling the shots on the front end through a half-mile in :54.1, followed by Boudoir Hanover, Grace Hill and Prohibition Legal. McNair then tipped out the daughter of Always B Miki-Western Silk, and set their sights on Silver Label, inching closer with every step to the outside. A neck on top at three-quarters in 1:21.3, Grace Hill was in full flight as the field straightened for the drive home.
Ahead by 1 ½ lengths at the stretch call, the Breeders Crown winner bounded home in :26.2 to notch a comfortable two-length triumph in a time of 1:48.0. Prohibition Legal was second, Boudoir Hanover, at 65-1, was third and Mikala was fourth.
“She’s a fun mare to drive, she’s just like driving a sports car,” lauded McNair. “I drove (Silver Label) last week, and she got beat by her stablemate from off her helmet, so I figured if I didn’t put mine on the front in a big hurry with her, she can sprint as fast as anything. When you’re first-up against a great mare on the front with a real nice one on my back it, it wasn’t the ideal spot, but she made it look pretty easy.
“I maybe just raced her wrong a couple times at The Meadowlands, she finished second and third. To be honest, I think she races better chasing. She won one time sitting last at the head of the stretch coming a :25 final-quarter. It’s just tough to take your chances that way and run into traffic. Tonight, we got to sit quite a way and when I moved her, she was really good.”
Owned by Tom Hill, it was the latest victory for the bay, who now boasts a 27-10-5 record, including six wins from seven appearances at Mohawk, from 57 starts, to go along with over $1.7 million in career purse earnings.
“I don’t know if she just loves Canada or not, but she sure feels like a different horse on this track,” noted McNair. “She seems to not get tired and she’s a lot of fun.”
The well-travelled mare, trained by Virgil Morgan, is now 8-2-1 from 11 starts on the campaign.
Bred by White Birch Farm, Grace Hill, a $75,000 purchase at the 2019 Lexington Select Yearling Sale, paid $3.60 for the win.
Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms