GALLANT BLOOM | PURSE: $300,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | FILLIES | GRADE 3 | 6 1/2- FURLONGS
Turtle Bird Stable's Cluster of Stars made it six-for-six in her career when wiring Belmont Park's Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap by five lengths on Saturday. Not seen since an easy score in the Distaff Handicap on April 13 at Aqueduct, the bay miss ran 6 1/2 furlongs on Belmont's good main track in 1:15 3/5 under jockey Javier Castellano.
"That's great, that's awesome," assistant trainer Toby Sheets praised. "She's never done anything wrong, and she continues to improve, be right there against good horses, and do the right things."
"I had a beautiful trip," Castellano stated. "Breaking out of the gate, this filly had a lot of speed, but she was able to relax. I had a lot of confidence in her. I know she's a very classy filly and we've had success together in the past. I wasn't worried about the layoff; the combination of the speed holding today and drawing the rail was an advantage for me today."
Cluster of Stars was sent off the 3-1 third choice in the eight-distaffer field and returned $8.20 for the win to her backers. She set splits of :22 and :45 2/5 while chased by Munnings Sister and Classic Point on the backstretch. Dance to Bristol suddenly put in a huge, wide move to range up to Cluster of Stars' outside entering the turn, but then stalled in the stretch run.
Though she gave it her best try, Dance to Bristol could never pass Cluster of Stars. The chestnut held second by 2 3/4 lengths over Dance Card, who was making her first start here since taking the Gazelle last November. Holiday Soiree came next under the wire, with Classic Point, Crespano, Munnings Sister and Defy Gravity completing the order of finish. Villanesca was withdrawn.
"My filly ran her race," said Ollie Figgins III, who trains Dance to Bristol. "We kind of had to go after that filly early or she definitely was not going to beat her. The winner looked better than us today, that's for sure."
Cluster of Stars has now earned $459,600 to go along with her unbeaten mark for trainer Steve Asmussen. Prior to Saturday the bay four-year-old had raced exclusively at Aqueduct, first on the inner dirt and then last out to take the Distaff Handicap on the main track. She broke her maiden by 5 1/2 lengths over the inner track last on February 12, 2012, but wasn't seen again until showing up on January 13 of this year to take an optional claimer by 6 1/4 lengths.
The Greeley's Galaxy filly just eked out a head victory while making her stakes debut in the Correction three weeks later, and she entered the Distaff off a 9 1/4-length wire job in an optional claimer on March 14.
Bred in New York by Michael McPoland and Sean Finn, Cluster of Stars is the first registered stakes scorer out of the winning Honour and Glory mare Babyurthegreatest. Her fourth dam is stakes diva Supper Show, who produced Grade 3-placed stakes victor Prince Daniel, and farther back this female family also contains Group 3 hero Sperry.