Dance to Bristol holds off Book Review to win Grade 1 Ballerina
By Jenny Kellner | 08/23/2013 07:18 PM ET
Dance to Bristol
Dance to Bristol earned her seventh straight victory on Friday and first in a Grade 1, holding off a late charge from favored Book Review to win the 35th running of the $500,000 Ballerina by a hard-fought head at Saratoga Race Course.
With the win, Dance to Bristol earned $300,000 and an all-fees-paid entry into the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita Park in November as part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" series.
With regular rider Xavier Perez in the irons, Dance to Bristol left the gate in good order and settled in fourth behind Classic Point, who led the field of 10 through an opening quarter-mile in 23.03 seconds. Taken to the outside as the half went in 45.89, Dance to Bristol maneuvered into striking position turning for home just as Book Review was hitting her best stride. As Book Review gained ground through the stretch, Dance to Bristol struck the lead with a furlong to go and refused to give in despite the best efforts of the runner-up.
Her winning time was 1:23.11 for seven furlongs.
"She's something else; she's amazing," said Perez, who has been aboard throughout Dance to Bristol's winning streak. "She's the best horse I ever rode in my whole career. I think it's going to be the one that's going to take me to the Breeders' Cup."
A 4-year-old daughter of Speightstown and a granddaughter of 1982 Ballerina winner Expressive Dance, Dance to Bristol began her streak in February, taking a pair of optional claimers at Laurel Park. She next annexed the Sugar Maple at Charles Town by nine lengths, won the Skipat at Pimlico Race Course and notched her first graded stakes with a 4 ¾-length triumph in the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses Handicap in June at Belmont Park.
In her first start at Saratoga on July 29, Dance to Bristol was the odds-on favorite as she posted a neck triumph in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap, but was sent off the second choice at 8-5 for the Ballerina.
Now 10-7-0 from 18 career starts, Dance to Bristol returned $5.50 for a $2 win bet to her backers in the crowd of 22,215. The winner's purse boosted her lifetime earnings to $920,880.
"The filly, she's done everything right, nothing wrong," said Ollie Figgins, III, who trains Dance to Bristol in Maryland for Susan H. Wantz. "She's a good horse, and I hope the world knows that."
Figgins said he was not sure if Dance to Bristol, who is 7-1-0 from eight starts this year, would run again prior to the Breeders' Cup.
The Bob Baffert-trained Book Review, a Grade 1 winner who entered the Ballerina off a victory in the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park, was 1 ½ lengths in front of Villanesca.
"I put my horse into position and followed the winner the whole race," said jockey Rafael Bejarano, aboard the runner-up. "I had an opportunity to pass her in the stretch, but the other horse never quit."
Following Villanesca under the wire were Street Girl, Classic Point, Starship Truffles, Fantasy of Flight, Sure Route, Moment in Dixie, and Glorious View.
Judy the Beauty flipped over at the starting gate and was a late scratch.
"Other than losing a tooth, she's fine," said trainer Wesley Ward, adding that Judy the Beauty could make her next start in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters on September 9 at Presque Isle Downs.