Dance to Bristol Brings Her Quick Step to Spa for Honorable Miss
By John Scheinman | 07/26/2013 03:57 PM ET
Dance to Bristol
Scourge of Mid-Atlantic tracks the past two years, 4-year-old filly Dance to Bristol lately has had her sights set on bigger game, and she will make her Saratoga Race Course debut Monday as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares.
Based at the Bowie Training Center in Maryland for trainer Ollie Figgins III, Dance to Bristol has eight victories and seven second-place finishes in 16 career starts. She has posted five stakes scores at five different tracks, including, most recently, the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses Handicap on June 15 at Belmont Park.
A compact, stalking runner with rising speed figures, Dance to Bristol's only off-the-board finish came in January 2012 when the blazingly fast Agave Kiss wired the field in the Ruthless Stakes at Aqueduct Race Track.
A daughter of Speightstown, purchased by owner Susan Wantz for $42,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training sale, Dance to Bristol now has won five straight. She will face six others in the Honorable Miss.
Under regular rider Xavier Perez, Dance to Bristol earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure winning the $200,000 Sugar Maple at Charles Town, defeating Holiday Soiree, who was subsequently third in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs. Dance to Bristol next whipped the field in the Skipat Stakes on Preakness Day at Pimlico prior to the Bed o' Roses.
"That's kind of when I realized it would be worth taking a shot at graded company," Figgins said of the Sugar Maple win. "That Holiday Soiree was a graded-type filly. From a Beyer figure standpoint, early in her 3-year-old year she ran a 91, and that was impressive. It was always in the back of my mind that she could perform at this level."
Before Dance to Bristol, Figgins' best horse was Rouse the Cat, a $10,000 claim he got to the 2008 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.
The Honorable Miss appears to have attracted an abundance of speed horses, including Burban, Classic Point, Livi Makenzie and Glorious View, which suits Figgins just fine.
"She's run some of her better races stalking the pace," said Figgins, a third generation horseman whose grandfather worked in the broodmare barns on Buckland Farm in Gainesville, Va., and whose father was a Mid-Atlantic region jockey for more than 20 years. "She's a free-running filly in the bridle. She breaks and gets herself in a rhythm, and if there's no pace in the race she can be the speed. It looks like there is plenty of speed in this race."
Dance to Bristol's principal rival might be Burban, a 5-year-old Speightstown mare trained by Eddie Kenneally, who is coming off a 3 ¼-length, gate-to-wire score in an overnight stake at Churchill Downs. Earlier in the Churchill meet, she finished second in the Humana Distaff and fourth in the Grade 3 Winning Colors.
"She won quite easily in her last start," Kenneally said of Burban, the 3-1 second choice on the morning line. "It was an overnight stakes race, and it was a short field, but she did everything right and got the job done. I think six furlongs is her best distance, so we want to take a shot in this spot and try to win a graded stakes with her. She hasn't done that.
"[Dance to Bristol] looks like she's unbeatable right now," Kenneally said. "Her last couple races were huge. Wherever she runs, she runs well, so you've got to respect her."
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will send out Glorious View, 4-1 on the morning line, who is seeking her fifth straight victory. The 4-year-old daughter of Pleasant Tap did not break her maiden until her seventh start but hasn't lost since. Most recently, she won the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park.
"She was just a slow learner," Mott said. "She always worked well but never really put it together in the afternoon, and I guess it really clicked. She showed a fair amount of ability from the beginning."
Munnings Sister, yet another daughter of Speightstown, seeks her third straight victory, after two overnight stakes scores.
"She's won these little overnight stakes, but we want her to win a graded stakes, and you can't do that without going in one," said trainer Barclay Tagg of Munnings Sister, 5-1 on the morning line. "It's six furlongs, a top-quality race, and I'd certainly like to win it. She surprises you sometimes and just jumps up and does it. The last one was great, and the one before that I didn't even expect it. She put her head down and ran."
Livi Makenzie, an off-the-pace winner of a stakes race at Prairie Meadows in her most recent start; the markedly improved Classic Point, from the barn of Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens; and Promise Me a Cat complete the field.
The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap: