When I look through the list of entries in various races,
there are several things that I look for. Familiar names…colors…weight… The
list goes on. Sometimes a horse catches my eye just because it has a name that
I like – and I may not chose that horse in that race, but I often add their
name to my long list of horses to watch for. Other times a horse stands out to
me because it’s the one of the few (or is the only one) of it’s color in a particular race. In the case of
Dance to Bristol, it was a combination of many things: name, color, and breeding.
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Charles Town isn’t a track that I often pay attention to,
but for whatever reason on September 24, 2011, I found myself browsing entries
for the next day. I marked only two horses in the first race, a four and a half
furlong sprint on the dirt for two year old maiden fillies. Both of them, oddly
enough, were trained by Ollie Figgins III. The first, a chestnut daughter of
Speightstown and Dance to Dawn (by Louis Quatorze) was my top choice for a
silly reason; I thought she had a better name in Dance to Bristol.
As things would have it, my choice was a good one. Bristol
chased the pace off the rail, and coming around the turn she moved four wide.
She drifted a little as the field came into the lane, but she sure dug her
hooves into the dirt as she got straightened out. She missed the win by a mere
nose, and I think to this day that she could have won had she not gone a little
too far out there. Still, she finished a little over four lengths ahead of the
nearest competitor, and I knew I had something to watch.
On her third outing, the filly finally won and I celebrated
in my room when I saw her hit the wire 3 ¼ lengths ahead. She moved to stakes
company next, and every time I backed her. There were a couple allowance and
allowance optional claiming thrown in the mix, but I knew the filly was better
than that. And finally on June 15, 2013 she was entered in the Grade 3 Bed
O’Roses Handicap at Belmont.
She stumbled at the start, making my heart race faster than
it already was, but recovered and settled three wide. Near the quarter pole,
regular rider Xavier Perez gave her some rein and she was roused. With a
furlong to go, she took the lead and took it away by nearly three lengths. I
wasn’t sure where she would go next, but she had nowhere to go but up.
To my delight, she headed to one of my favorite tracks next,
tackling more difficult company in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss at Saratoga. She
raced near the back of the field, letting Classic Point set the fractions.
Turning into the stretch, Dance to Bristol was stuck in traffic but near the
eighth pole was able to break loose. She had enough in her to nail Classic
Point at the wire, taking the victory by a neck. It wasn’t her cleanest trip,
as Figgins said, but it is definitely one of her most impressive in my eyes.
The four year old filly has now finished first or second in
sixteen of her seventeen career starts, with her only off the board finish
being a fourth to Agave Kiss in the Ruthless. She has won her past past three
starts by a combined 16 ½ lengths, and all her fans would like to see that
margin increase in her next start. Figgins is currently pointing her toward the
August 23 Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga. Depending upon the outcome of the
Ballerina, she will hopefully travel to Belmont for the Gallant Bloom in late
September, and then, if all goes well, maybe to Santa Anita the Breeders’ Cup
Filly and Mare Sprint.
The field, should Bristol get that far, will be deeper than
what she has faced before. There are several good fillies and mares that will
likely aim to be in the starting gate in November, many of them with names
bigger than that of the Kentucky-bred filly. She may not win it if she gets
that far, but I’ll be backing her every furlong of the way.
~Written by Ciara Bowen