Gallant Bloom Handicap 2013 Contenders at Belmont Park

Dave Bond | OTB Writer
Updated: September 19, 2013 -- 2:30 PM ET

Las Vegas, NV - Belmont Park in Elmont, New York will play host to the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap this Saturday, September 21. Fillies and mares three years old and upward will be featured as they chase the winner's share of the $200,000 purse around Belmont Park's dirt track over 6.5 furlongs.

The Gallant Bloom has attracted a field of nine older females to go in race 9 on Belmont Park's Saturday card. Post time is 5:17 PM. Here is a brief look into the past performances of all nine entries for this Grade 2 stakes.

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2013 Gallant Bloom Handicap Race Favorite Entries

Dance to Bristol - has finished with first or second in 17 of her 18 career starts. She enters on a terrific seven race win streak including the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes last time out, the Grade 2 Honorable Miss July 29, the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses Handicap at Belmont Park in her graded stakes debut, the minor Skipcat Stakes by 4 3/4 lengths at Pimlico May 17 and the minor Sugar Maple Stakes by nine lengths with a Beyer Speed figure of 106 at Charles Town April 20 after a couple of Allowance Optional Claiming scores at Laurel Park this year. She has been competitive in every career with 10 wins (seven stakes wins) in 18 career starts. She is absolutely on fire and the one to beat Saturday. Dance to Bristol starts from the outside post with Xavier Perez in the saddle as the 2-1 favorite.

Cluster of Stars - has five career starts for trainer Steve Asmussen and five impressive wins - all at six furlongs, all at Aqueduct's inner track. Last time out was a terrific score in the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap way back in April in her stakes debut after an Allowance Optional Claiming score by 9 1/4 lengths March 14, a win in the minor Correction Stakes over eight time stakes winner Nicole H February 2 and an Allowance Optional Claiming score in January. She hasn't tasted defeat yet but races for the first time since April on Saturday - which represents her first starts away from Aqueduct. Cluster of Stars departs from the rail with Javier Castellano in the irons and is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.

Gallant Bloom Handicap 2013 | Remaining Contenders

Villanesca - Kiaran McLaughlin trained filly has eight career starts with four wins and has won three of her last five heading into the Gallant Bloom. Last time out was a respectable third in the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes in her graded stakes debut after her first stakes win - the minor Magnolia Jackson Handicap at this distance at Belmont Park July 5. Before that was an Allowance Optional Claiming score March 1 at Aqueduct. She has two wins and that third in four starts this year - it is safe to say that Villanesca enter in the best form of her career. She starts from post 2 at 7-2 odds and is a coupled entry along with...

Dance Card - has five career starts for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin with four straight wins - the Grade 1 Gazelle Stakes last time out, the minor Belle Cherie, an Allowance Optional Claiming and a Maiden Special Weight before that. The problem? Her last action came in November of 2012! Dance Card was impressive before the long layoff - it will be interesting to see if track rust creeps into the picture.

Holiday Soiree - finished a respectable fourth in her graded stakes debut in the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont to end her 2011 campaign and has been at or near the top in eight starts since - two Allowance Optional Claiming scores and four second place finishes including the minor Safely Kept Stakes at Laurel Park in November and the Sugar Maple Stakes at Charles Town April 20. She has remained competitive in 2013 with a pair of thirds in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff in May and in the minor Red Cross Stakes at Monmouth Park three weeks later to start her 2013 campaign. Last time out was Holiday Soiree's first win in over a year - the minor Shine Again Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths after a fourth in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap in July. Holiday Soiree is listed at 4-1 odds and departs from post 3 Saturday.

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Classic Point - Allen Jerkins trained filly raced in stakes company for the first time two back and finished a very respectable second by a neck behind Dance to Bristol in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss July 29. Before that was a two race win streak - an Allowance Optional Claiming at Belmont Park June 30 after a Starter Optional Claiming score on that same track two weeks earlier. Last time out however, she fell back to earth just a tad with a fifth in the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes August 23 at Saratoga. She has four wins in 18 career starts and hopes to build on her impressive stakes debut two back. Classic Point goes off at 10-1 odds from the eight hole for the Gallant Bloom.

Munnings Sister - made her graded stakes debut February 10 and finished seventh in the Grade 2 Hurricane Bertie Stakes after nine career starts yielded four wins and a third place finish - with a disappointing ninth in the minor Safely Kept Stakes at Laurel Park and a sixth in the Imperial Gesture Stakes at Belmont Park October 24 to close out 2012. She had a two race win streak earlier this year however - in the minor Gold Prince Stakes at Belmont Park April 28 and the Smart and Fancy Stakes also at Belmont Park June 13 and enters off a respectable third in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss at Saratoga July 29. Munnings Sister departs from post 5 at 12-1 odds Saturday.

Defy Gravity - had a fifth in her graded stakes debut - the Azalea at Calder on July 7 2012 and followed that with a sixth in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks but hasn't seen any graded stakes action since. She enters this weekend in decent form however - a win last time out in the minor Potomac Handicap at Charles Town was her first win in nearly two years after an Allowance Optional Claiming score on that same track August 10. She only has five wins in 23 starts and two of them have come in her last two starts overall. Despite the recent success Defy Gravity is the longest shot in the field at 30-1 odds along with...

Crespano - had three straight Allowance Optional Claiming scores to end her 2012 campaign but has only one start this year - a fourth in the minor Correction Stakes at Aqueduct in February. She is one of a number of Gallant Bloom entries coming off layoffs and not a whole lot is expected of Crespano. Overall she has four wins, three seconds and two third place finishes in 12 career starts but she step up in graded stakes company for the first time Saturday.


2013 Gallant Bloom Handicap Entries & Odds

Race 9 on Belmont Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 5:17 PM.

Entry Horse Jockey Trainer ML Odds
1 Villanesca D. Cohen K. McLaughlin
7-2
1A Dance Card J. Alvarado K. McLaughlin
7-2
2 Cluster of Stars J. Castellano S. Asmussen
3-1
3 Holiday Soiree J. Velazquez T. Pletcher
4-1
4 Defy Gravity M. Luzzi V. Testerman
30-1
5 Munnings Sister E. Prado B. Tagg
12-1
6 Crespano A. Arroyo J. Coronel
30-1
7 Classic Point A. Solis H. Jerkens
10-1
8 Dance to Bristol X. Perez O. Figgins, III
2-1

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