Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
to Bristol, a winner of seven straight, heads a talented group of
fillies and mare sprinters entered in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant
Bloom Handicap, the featured race on Saturday at Belmont Park.
6 ½-furlong Gallant Bloom was carded as race nine on the 10-race card,
has a scheduled post time of 5:17 p.m., and is the third leg of the
$300,000 Guaranteed Late Pick 4.
year, Dance to Bristol has won at five tracks in three states. Based at
the Bowie Training Center in Maryland, she enters the Gallant Bloom off
a pair of narrow wins at Saratoga Race Course, having taken the Grade 2
Honorable Miss Handicap by a neck on July 29 and the Grade 1 Ballerina
by a head on August 23.
both races, Dance to Bristol rallied from midpack and outfought her
opponents in the stretch to continue her winning streak. Immediately
after the Ballerina, trainer Ollie Figgins III said he wasn't sure
whether he'd have the 4-year-old daughter of Speightstown train up to
the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in November or if
she'd make another start in the interim.
Wednesday, Figgins said Dance to Bristol, owned by Susan H. Wantz,
exited the Ballerina in top shape and will compete in the Gallant Bloom.
was going to make my decision after I saw how she came out of the race,
and she has been doing great and has turned in two good works," said
Figgins. "I'm not sure how she [maintains her form]; if I knew, I'd do
it with every horse. She's a professional filly who comes out of her
races in good shape, and she's an easy horse to gauge whether she is
doing good or not. It makes my job easier."
Perez will ride Dance to Bristol, the 2-1 morning-line favorite and
121-pound highweight, from the outside post in the field of nine.
Gallant Bloom field includes a pair of graded stakes winners who are
returning from layoffs, with unbeaten Cluster of Stars making her first
start since capturing the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap by 2 ¾ lengths in
April at Aqueduct Racetrack and Dance Card returning from a four-length
win in the Grade 1 Gazelle last November at the Big A.
of Stars, a speedy 4-year-old, will be making her first start away from
Aqueduct, where she has won five races in as many starts. She entered
the Distaff off a head victory over Nicole H in the Correction in
February and a 9 ¼-length optional claiming score in March.
In July, Cluster of Stars returned to the worktab at Belmont and has posted 11 breezes in preparation for the Gallant Bloom.
"It's nice to have her back," said Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen.
Castellano will ride Cluster of Stars, who drew the rail, was tabbed
3-1 on the morning line, and was assigned 117 pounds. Asmussen trains
the Greeley's Galaxy filly for Harvey Weinstein's Turtle Bird Stable.
Card, part of a coupled entry that was installed at 7-2 on the morning
line, will make her first start in a sprint since she was second to
eventual Grade 1 winner and 2013 Ballerina runner-up Book Review in a
Belmont maiden special weight in May 2012. Since then, Dance Card has
won four straight, including the 1 1/16-mile Belle Cherie overnight
stakes by 7 ½ lengths last September and the Grade 1 Gazelle by four
lengths in November at Aqueduct.
had a couple of chips taken out of ankles, so she has been away a
while, but she is back and training great," said trainer Kiaran
McLaughlin. "She's ready to run and this was a spot available. This a
very tough race, but if she does run real well she could [run in the
Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint]. We want to go further, but we
will have to wait. It's a good step, 6 ½ furlongs to seven furlongs.
She's a very nice filly, doing great."
Card will carry 117 pounds, including Junior Alvarado, and carry the
colors of Sheikh Mohammad's Godolphin Racing from post position 6.
the other half of the entry, won the Magnolia Jackson overnight stakes
over the Gallant Bloom's course and distance in July and enters
Saturday's race off a third, beaten 3 ½ lengths by Dance to Bristol, in
David Cohen has the call aboard Villanesca, who drew post 2 and was weighted at 115 pounds.
Farm's Holiday Soiree will step up in class off a 3 ¾-length triumph in
the restricted Shine Again Stakes on August 5 at the Spa, her first
stakes win and first start for trainer Todd Pletcher. Earlier this year,
she was second in the Sugar Maple in April at Charles Town, third in
the Grade 1 Humana Distaff in May at Churchill Downs, third in the Red
Cross in May at Monmouth Park, and fourth in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney
Handicap in July at Calder Race Course.
has been a very straightforward filly to train, very professional,
likes her job," said Pletcher. "She trained well prior to the race in
Saratoga and performed even better than we expected. She came out of it
well and we have been targeting the Gallant Bloom since that time. I
think it's a step up in class off her last race. She has run in pretty
big races in the past, and I think she certainly fits off her 'A' race."
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride Holiday Soiree, 4-1, from post 3. She was assigned 117 pounds.
field also includes Defy Gravity, second in the Potomac Handicap at
Charles Town in her most recent start; Munnings Sister, third in the
Honorable Miss; Crespano, unraced since finishing last of four in the
Correction; and Classic Point, second in the Honorable Miss and fifth in