01/08/2014 1:20PM

2013 Eclipse Awards: Dance to Bristol



                                                                photo by: Barbara D. Livingston

Over the last quarter-century, quite a few top racehorses have come out of the Bowie training center in Maryland – Captain Bodgit, Little Bold John, Northern Wolf, and Ten Keys, to name a few. The latest to carry the proud Bowie legacy is Dance to Bristol, who emerged as a standout sprinter in the filly and mare ranks in 2013.

Owned by Susan Wantz, who lives in Taneytown, Md., and trained by former jockey Ollie Figgins III, Dance to Bristol won seven of her 10 starts in 2013, including victories in five straight stakes, capped by the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga. Dance to Bristol, a chestnut 4-year-old by Speightstown out of Dance to Dawn, by Louis Quatorze, began her year with a runner-up finish in the ungraded What a Summer Stakes on Jan. 12 at Laurel Park.

With Maryland regular Xavier Perez taking over the mount for the rest of the year, the filly then won back-to-back allowance sprints at Laurel before running off to a nine-length victory in the $200,000 Sugar Maple on the April 20 Charles Town Classic undercard. Using a powerful stalk-and-pounce style as her calling card, Dance to Bristol won four more stakes in succession. Just as in the Sugar Maple, she was dominant in winning the ungraded Skipat by 4 3/4 lengths on the May 17 Preakness eve card at Pimlico. The filly made a successful foray into graded company when shipping to Belmont Park to capture the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses on June 15 as the 8-5 favorite. She continued her torrid streak by winning the Grade 2 Honorable Miss as an odds-on choice on July 29 at Saratoga. And then came the pinnacle of her brilliant career.

The Aug. 23 Ballerina shaped up as one of the most important races of the year in the division, with California invader Book Review a slight favorite over Dance to Bristol. Dance to Bristol had made her usual big move to take command, and straightening for home Book Review loomed a major presence to her outside. Perez went to a steady left-handed whip, and Figgins said he later thought to himself, “We’re going to see what kind of heart my horse had.” The answer: a big one.

Dance to Bristol dug down to prevail by a head, giving her a remarkable seven wins in a row. “The filly has done everything right, nothing wrong,” Figgins said afterward. “She’s a good horse, and I hope the world knows that now.” Dance to Bristol ended her year with a second-place finish as the favorite behind Cluster of Stars in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom on Sept. 21 at Belmont Park and a sixth-place finish in her career finale, the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita.

Overall, however, Dance to Bristol had done more than enough, and with Maryland racing fans wanting to show their appreciation for her accomplishments, the filly was paraded at Laurel on Nov. 16. “This is a very special and emotional day for all of us,” Figgins told the Maryland Jockey Club. “She was up for every challenge we gave her. She was a great horse to train and it was a pleasure to have her in my barn.” Dance to Bristol has been retired to Mill Ridge Farm in Kentucky, where she will be bred early this year.

Bred in Kentucky by David and Dana Garner, Dance to Bristol earned $821,430 in 2013, bringing her career totals to 10 wins from 20 starts and $980,880.