The 4-year-old filly Dance to Bristol has come a long way. And so has Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.
A $42,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale, Dance to Bristol made her career debut at Charles Town in September 2011, and finished second, beaten a nose, in a maiden special weight event. Two years later, the Speighstown filly is a legitimate candidate for the Breeders' Cup.
Owned by Susan Wantz and trained by Ollie Figgins III, Dance to Bristol has won her last seven starts, the last five in stakes. The stakes spree began with a romp in the $250,000 Sugar Maple at Charles Town in April and most recently the grade I Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
In the seven-furlong Ballerina–a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event–Dance to Bristol finished a head in front Book Review, a grade I winner who last year won the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. The Sugar Maple and the Oaks aren't graded--yet–but they are further indication of the type of horses that have come out of Charles Town stakes the last several years.
Groupie Doll, the champion female sprinter of 2012, finished a close second in the Charles Town Oaks in 2011, and a year later won the grade I Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
Game on Dude, who is making a serious bid for Horse of the Year honors in 2013, finished second in the 2011 Charles Town Classic, then a grade III event. This year, perhaps lured by a guaranteed $1 million check for the winner, took the Charles Town Classic–now grade II–in his grittiest effort of the year thus far.
It would seem the above-mentioned horses could all show up for this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships and have legitimate chances. The fact they all have connections to Charles Town is more evidence of the new dynamic in horse racing: Money talks and it can bring credibility to a racing program; it just takes some time and commitment.