08/23/2013 6:51PM

Saratoga: Dance to Bristol shows her heart in Ballerina win

Barbara D. Livingston
Dance to Bristol (right), with Xavier Perez in the saddle, holds off Book Review to win the Ballerina.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Dance to Bristol had taken the lead straightening for home in Friday’s $500,000 Ballerina Handicap at Saratoga, but the presence of the Grade 1 winner Book Review loomed large to her outside.

Inside, trainer Ollie Figgins III thought to himself, “We’re going to see what kind of heart my horse had.”

Dance to Bristol had enough heart to hold off Book Review by a head and win her first Grade 1 race and earn an automatic, fees-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.

[BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Win and You’re In schedule and results]

The result wasn’t that surprising to Figgins, who has now seen Dance to Bristol win seven straight races and 10 of 18 in her career. Dance to Bristol, owned by Susan Wantz, has now earned $920,880.

“I’ve come to expect it almost,” Figgins said.

Figgins said he felt Dance to Bristol deserved a Grade 1 on her resume which includes seven stakes. She won the Grade 2 Honorable Miss here last month.

“It’s very special,” Figgins said. “The filly has done everything right, nothing wrong, she’s a good horse, and I hope the world knows that now.”

The start of the Ballerina was delayed when Judy the Beauty flipped backwards in the gate and had to be scratched. Trainer Wesley Ward said that except for knocking out a tooth, Judy the Beauty was fine.

Jose Lezcano, the rider of Judy the Beauty sustained a twisted knee, according to his agent, Jason Beides.

Lezcano replaced Joel Rosario, who earlier in the card suffered a potential foot injury after a mount of his fell past the finish line. He was taken to Saratoga Hospital for X-rays.

All seven of Dance to Bristol’s victories have been with jockey Xavier Perez, who in the Ballerina did a terrific job working an outside stalking trip despite breaking from post 1.

Perez adeptly worked Dance to Bristol from the rail to  the four path as Classic Point, Fantasy of Flight, and Glorious View set the pace, running a half-mile in 45.89 seconds.

Perez swung Dance to Bristol four wide into the stretch and with a hard right-handed smack she catapulted to the front.

Meanwhile, Rafael Bejarano, on Book Review, split horses at the three-eighths pole then swung five wide for the stretch. Perez hit Dance to Bristol several times left-handed so she could see Book Review, holding her off at the wire.

“I was really confident the whole time, that’s why I waited to start riding her,” Perez said. “When I started riding her, she took off running, and when she felt that horse coming near her she just kept going with her and she never left that horse by her.”

Dance to Bristol, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Speightstown, covered the seven furlongs in 1:23.11 and returned $5.50 to win.

Perez said Dance to Bristol is the “best horse I rode in my whole career, and she’s the one that’s going to be the one to take me to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Bejarano said he attempted to follow Dance to Bristol in the stretch.

“She kept running,” Bejarano said of Book Review, “but the winner never stopped.”

Book Review finished 1 1-2 lengths ahead of Villanesca, who nosed out 63-1 shot Street Girl for third.

Classic Point, Starship Truffles, Fantasy of Flight, Sure Route, Moment in Dixie, and Glorious View complete the order of finish.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Inside, trainer Ollie Figgins III thought to himself..." Now how could you possibly know that, if it was going on, you know, inside? nice riting!
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
Some horses just like to compete and win. Dance to Bristol is such a horse. Nice filly and then some.
Bill Ware More than 1 year ago
Glad for Ollie. These guys from CT like he and Jeff Runco can compete with the big boys because they are sharp horsemen and veterans of how to play the game! Smart move bringing X. up from home base to ride her.That was a quality field that she beat. When a horse can run in the 1:23/1:24 range for 7F on a 2turn track, that is 2seconds better in a 1turn 7f race! Stories like this are good for the sport! Congrats!
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
This horse is a dream for the Maryland connections. What a game RACEHORSE Following her career she is just a GREAT Horse who is one of the best in the division and hope she gets her shot in the Breeders Cup to show what she has. Easy horse to root for with some loving Maryland connections
Stephen Stankiewicz More than 1 year ago
I was impressed very much with Dance to Bristol. When she was laying 3rd and 4th in the early going I felt that she was going to win. Obviously she had to hold off Book Review. Excellent ride by jockey Xavier Perez and a great job of training by Ollie Figgins III When you can win 7 races in a row and culminate with a grade 2 and grade 1 you have done one heck of a good job of training period!!!!!!!!!! When you can do it up at beautiful Saratoga well, they don't hand it to you thats for sure!
Hadrian Marcus More than 1 year ago
Yes....both horses via CT....Book Review won the Charles Town Oaks and Dance to Bristol won the Sugar Maple.
GuidoMcNeal More than 1 year ago
Congrats to the connections! CT to Saratoga to Breeders Cup