Bolshoi Ballet Could Return to States for G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic

August 27, 2023

Bolshoi Ballet a dominant winner of the Sword Dancer (Chelsea Durand)

NYRA Press Office

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Westerberg, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Bolshoi Ballet drew off to an impressive 4 1/2-length score in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer, at Saratoga Race Course. The victory in the 12-furlong inner turf test for older horses provided Bolshoi Ballet with a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in November at Santa Anita Park.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien and piloted by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, the 5-year-old Galileo bay earned his second top-flight score on the NYRA circuit after taking the 2021 Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational.

“He was good, wasn’t he? I fancied him coming out here – he looked well,” said T. J. Comerford, traveling assistant for O’Brien.

The former O’Brien trainee Stone Age, now in the care of Chad Brown, led at the five-eighths but was no match for the vigorous run of Bolshoi Ballet, who was in command after 10 furlongs and in front by four lengths at the stretch call hitting the wire under a hand ride in a final time of 2:29.29 over yielding going.

The victory registered a career-best 107 Beyer Speed Figure – a 21 point improvement on his Belmont Derby score.

“He just kept it very simple,” said Comerford of the trip engineered by Velazquez. “He followed the pace and as the pace started to fall away, he took on Stone Age down the back and it was all easy from there. He just ran clear. I think he would be even better on a bit better ground.”

Comerford and Bolshoi Ballet will fly back to Ireland this evening with a return trip for the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on September 30 at Belmont at the Big A under consideration as a springboard to the Breeders’ Cup.

Bolshoi Ballet, who was a dual Group 3 winner in his native Ireland as a sophomore prior to his Belmont Derby win, made only one start in 2022 before launching his comeback in April, coming into the Sword Dancer off a sixth-place finish at odds of 125-1 in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes July 29 at Ascot.

Bred in Ireland by Lynch-Bages and Rhinestone Bloodstock, Bolshoi Ballet is out of the Anabaa mare Alta Anna. He is a full brother to Southern France, who was a dual group-winning stayer in Ireland and Australia. He comes from the same extended family as multiple group winner Bewitched.

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