Dance to Bristol has answered every question asked of her by trainer Ollie Figgins III in her past six starts. She moved from allowance winner to stakes victress, then from stakes scores to a grade III win, and last time out acing the July 29 Honorable Miss Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course for her greatest accomplishment to date.
On Aug. 23, the 4-year-old Speightstown filly returns to the scene of her most recent victory for a chance at grade I success in the $500,000 Ballerina Stakes (gr. I), hoping to extend her six race win streak while fending off 10 other fillies and mares who will line up for the seven-furlong sprint around 5:20 p.m. EDT.
The Ballerina is a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" challenge series race, earning the winner an automatic starting berth in the Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I).
Dance to Bristol has won nine of 17 starts with seven second-place finishes, with six stakes scores at six different tracks—the past two being the Bed o' Roses (gr. III) at Belmont Park and the Honorable Miss.
Purchased by owner Susan Wantz for $42,000 at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale and now with $620,880 in earnings, she has only finished off the board on one occasion. Regular rider Xavier Perez will ride from the rail as part of a 119-pound impost.
Dance to Bristol faces her steepest test yet in the Ballerina as she lines up against the likes of Castleton Lyons' 122-pound highweight Starship Truffles, winner of the July 7 Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) at Calder Casino & Race Course for trainer Marty Wolfson, and Gary and Mary West's grade I-winning Book Review.
Book Review, a 4-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway , won the July 13 A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) at Betfair Hollywood Park in her most recent outing. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, she earned her grade I victory last December in the La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita Park. She has an allowance win at Saratoga to her credit from last summer, although she ran poorly in the Test Stakes (gr. I) there as well. Rafael Bejarano comes in to ride from post 5; Book Review carries 119.
Starship Truffles, a 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly, took the six-furlong Princess Rooney by 3 3/4 lengths over Ontario-bred Judy the Beauty, who also races for the first time since here. Starship Truffles also makes her first start for new owner Castleton Lyons, who purchased the filly for $1 million at the July 15 Fasig-Tipton horses of racing age sale. Starship Truffles leaves post 6 under Luis Saez, while Judy the Beauty will be ridden from the 9 hole by Joel Rosario for owner/trainer Wesley Ward.
Impressed by a sharp score by Moment in Dixie in an optional claimer on July 24 at the Spa, trainer Jimmy Toner will send the 4-year-old filly up in class for the Ballerina. Moment in Dixie ran the Ballerina distance of seven furlongs in a time of 1:24.18 in her most recent start, winning with a 2 1/2-length advantage. This will be her second outing in graded company; she ran fourth in the Cotillion Stakes (gr. I) last year at Parx Racing.
"That's a big jump, but I would love to get some black type on her," Toner said of a Ballerina run. "She came back very good."
Phillips Racing Partnership's Moment in Dixie, out of the multiple-graded-stakes-winning Darby Dan Farm mare Ellie's Moment, is from the last crop of top sire Dixieland Band, who died at age 30 in 2010. Toner said he did a double-take when he first saw Moment in Dixie's pedigree.
"I said, 'Is it Dixieland Band or Dixie Union?'" he recalled.
Dixieland Band covered Ellie's Moment at age 28 in 2008. Moment in Dixie has won three of eight starts and along with her recent victory, she finished second in a 1 1/8-mile overnight stakes at Saratoga last summer and second in another two-turn stakes race at Monmouth Park. Hall of Fame trainer Mike Smith rides from the 7 hole.
Fellow Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens will send out Classic Point, second by a neck in the Honorable Miss, which was her stakes debut.
"We wouldn't want to find anything easy," Jerkens joked.
In the Honorable Miss, the 4-year-old chestnut Florida-bred daughter of Flatter led the field through a quarter-mile in :22.11, a half in :44.98, and five furlongs in :57.08, but was caught at the wire by Dance to Bristol.
"I was tickled that she was running that well," Jerkens said. "I didn't think she would make the lead like she did, because there were some pretty quick horses in there compared to what she had been running with. We thought she was good right from the start, but then she ran so badly we couldn't figure it out. Whatever it is, she's doing better now, that's for sure."
The Honorable Miss was the 17th career start and 10th this year for Classic Point, who will be ridden by Alex Solis from post 3.
Laue Ranch's Glorious View, winner of the May 18 Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont but seventh and last of all in the Honorable Miss for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, is another who merits consideration. The 4-year-old daughter of Pleasant Tap won four in a row before her off-the-board finish in the Honorable Miss.
Sanford Robbins' allowance winner Fantasy of Flight has been knocking on the door for trainer Michelle Nevin, but can't quite get the graded stakes score. The 5-year-old Tiznow runner was second in the Bed o' Roses by 2 3/4 lengths and in the Vagrancy by half a length, and comes off a runner-up finish by the latter margin in July 22 allowance company going a mile on the turf at Saratoga. She gets blinkers on.
Completing the field are Sure Route, a British-bred daughter of Ishiguru who makes her first start since being claimed for $100,000 by Danny Gargan from David Jacobson and Drawing Away Stable after running fifth in that same race; Rontos Racing Stable's Calder Oaks victress Street Girl, by Street Hero ; and Darley Stable's July 5 Magnolia Jackson Stakes winner Villanesca from the barn of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
$500,000 Ballerina Stakes (gr. I, Race 9, approximate post 5:20 p.m. EDT), fillies & mares 3YOs & Up, seven furlongs (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Dance to Bristol (KY), X. Perez, 119, O L Figgins, III
2. Villanesca (KY), J.R. Velazquez, 115, K P McLaughlin
3. Classic Point (FL), A.O. Solis, 115, H A Jerkens
4. Street Girl (KY), I. Ortiz, Jr., 111, M J Azpurua
5. Book Review (KY), R. Bejarano, 119, B Baffert
6. Starship Truffles (KY), L. Saez, 122, M D Wolfson
7. Moment in Dixie (KY), M.E. Smith, 115, J J Toner
8. Judy the Beauty (ON), J. Rosario, 115, W A Ward
9. Glorious View (KY), J. Alvarado, 119, W I Mott
10. Fantasy of Flight (KY), C.H. Velasquez, 115, M Nevin
11. Sure Route (GB), J. Castellano, 116, D Gargan
Equipment Changes: 10—Fantasy of Flight—Blinkers On