Scourge of Mid-Atlantic tracks the past two years, 4-year-old filly Dance to Bristol now has her sights set on bigger game, and will make her Saratoga Race Course debut July 29 as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II), a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares.
Based at the Bowie Training Center in Maryland for trainer Ollie Figgins III, Dance to Bristol has posted eight victories and seven second-place finishes in 16 career starts. She has five stakes scores at five different tracks to her credit, including her latest victory—the June 15 Bed o' Roses Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont Park—and is on a five-race winning streak.
A compact, stalking runner with rising speed figures, the filly's only off-the-board finish came in January 2012 when the blazingly fast Agave Kiss
wired the field in the Ruthless Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack
. Dance to Bristol is a daughter of Speightstown
who was purchased by owner Susan Wantz for $42,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale. She will face six others in the Honorable Miss.
Under regular rider Xavier Perez, Dance to Bristol earned a 106 Beyer figure winning the $200,000 Sugar Maple at Charles Town April 20, defeating Holiday Soiree
, who was subsequently third in the Humana Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downs
. Dance to Bristol next whipped the field in the Skipat Stakes May 18 at Pimlico Race Course
prior to the Bed o' Roses.
"That's kind of when I realized it would be worth taking a shot at graded company," Figgins said of the Sugar Maple win. "That Holiday Soiree was a graded-type filly. From a Beyer figure standpoint, early in her 3-year-old year she ran a 91, and that was impressive. It was always in the back of my mind that she could perform at this level."
Before Dance to Bristol, Figgins' best horse was Rouse the Cat, a $10,000 claim he got to the 2008 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT).
"She's run some of her better races stalking the pace," said Figgins, a third generation horseman whose grandfather worked in the broodmare barns on Buckland Farm in Gainesville, Va., and whose father was a Mid-Atlantic region jockey for more than 20 years. "She's a free-running filly in the bridle. She breaks and gets herself in a rhythm, and if there's no pace in the race she can be the speed. It looks like there is plenty of speed in this race."
Dance to Bristol's principal rival might be Burban, a 5-year-old Speightstown mare trained by Eddie Kenneally who is coming off a 3 1/4-length, gate-to-wire score in an overnight stake at Churchill. Earlier in the Churchill meet, she finished second in the Humana Distaff and fourth in the Winning Colors (gr. III).
"She won quite easily in her last start," Kenneally said of Burban, the 3-1 second choice on the morning line. "It was an overnight stakes race, and it was a short field, but she did everything right and got the job done. I think six furlongs is her best distance, so we want to take a shot in this spot and try to win a graded stakes with her. She hasn't done that.
"(Dance to Bristol) looks like she's unbeatable right now," Kenneally said. "Her last couple races were huge. Wherever she runs, she runs well, so you've got to respect her."
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will send out Glorious View, 4-1 on the morning line, who is seeking her fifth straight victory. The 4-year-old daughter of Pleasant Tap did not break her maiden until her seventh start but hasn't lost since. Most recently, she won the Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont.
"She was just a slow learner," Mott said. "She always worked well but never really put it together in the afternoon, and I guess it really clicked. She showed a fair amount of ability from the beginning."
Munnings Sister, yet another daughter of Speightstown, seeks her third straight victory after two overnight stakes scores.
"She's won these little overnight stakes, but we want her to win a graded stakes, and you can't do that without going in one," said trainer Barclay Tagg of Munnings Sister, 5-1 on the morning line. "It's six furlongs, a top-quality race, and I'd certainly like to win it. She surprises you sometimes and just jumps up and does it. The last one was great, and the one before that I didn't even expect it. She put her head down and ran."
Livi Makenzie, an off-the-pace winner of a stakes race at Prairie Meadows
in her most recent start; the markedly improved Classic Point, from the barn of Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens; and Promise Me a Cat
complete the field.
$200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, approximate post 4:47 p.m. EDT), fillies & mares 3YOs & Up, six furlongs (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Livi Makenzie (KY), J. Rosario, 116, R Moquett, 5-1
2. Promise Me a Cat (FL), J. Castellano, 114, C F Martin, 20-1
3. Classic Point (FL), A.O. Solis, 113, H A Jerkens, 10-1
4. Dance to Bristol (KY), X. Perez, 119, O L Figgins, III, 5-2
5. Burban (KY), S. Bridgmohan, 117, E Kenneally, 3-1
6. Glorious View (KY), J. Alvarado, 116, W I Mott, 4-1
7. Munnings Sister (KY), C.H. Velasquez, 116, B Tagg, 5-1