08/23/2013 5:51PM

Saratoga: Dance to Bristol shows her heart in Ballerina win

Email
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