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Cluster of Stars Shines in Gallant Bloom

Belmont Park

Making her first start in more than five months, Cluster of Stars promptly seized the lead from the inside and never looked back en route to a decisive victory on Saturday at Belmont Park in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap.

 

Cluster of Stars, a 4-year-old New York-bred owned by Harvey Weinstein's Turtle Bird Stable, is unbeaten in six starts, and her victory in the 6 ½-furlong Gallant Bloom for fillies and mares gave jockey Javier Castellano his fourth of five winners on Saturday's card.

 

Leaving from the rail, Cluster of Stars wasted no time getting to the front, grabbing the top spot in the opening sixteenth of a mile. She led Munnings Sister by one length through an opening quarter-mile in 22.16 seconds, then faced a challenge from favored Dance to Bristol as she ran a half in 45.43.

 

Castellano, however, did not move aboard Cluster of Stars, who dismissed Dance to Bristol's challenge and began to pull away approaching the eighth pole. At the finish, Cluster of Stars led by five lengths. Dance to Bristol, who brought a seven-race winning streak into the Gallant Bloom, finished 2 ¾ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Dance Card.

 

Cluster of Stars, the 3-1 second choice, returned $8.20 for a $2 win wager, completed the distance over the "good" main track in 1:15.72, and earned $180,000. Her bankroll now stands at $459,600.

 

"Breaking out of the gate, this filly had a lot of speed, but she was able to relax," said Castellano. "I had a lot of confidence in her. I know she's a very classy filly and we've had success together in the past. I wasn't worried about the layoff; the combination of the speed holding today and drawing the rail was an advantage for me today."

 

The Gallant Bloom was Cluster of Stars' first start away from Aqueduct Racetrack and beyond six furlongs. Earlier this year, she easily captured an optional claimer for New York-breds in January, defeated Nicole H by a head in the Correction in February, aired by 9 ¼ lengths in an open optional claimer in March, and reported home a 2 ¾-length winner in the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap in April.

 

"She's never done anything wrong, and she continues to improve, be right there against good horses, and do the right things," said Toby Sheets, assistant to winning trainer Steve Asmussen.

 

Castellano won with half of his mounts on Saturday's 10-race card. His other four victories came in race 4 with Kingsford Drive ($10.20), race 5 with River Boss ($5.90), race 6 with Request ($5.60), and race 10 with Powerful Instinct ($8.10).

 

Holiday Soiree, Classic Point, Crespano, Munnings Sister, and Defy Gravity completed the order of finish. Villanesca was scratched.

 


 

 

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