Race of the Week 2017

Nowhere But Up; Dance to Bristol Keeps Improving

Dance To Bristol 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
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.

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


comments powered by Disqus

Related Pages

Related Stories

Top Stories