Frontrunning Dancing Buck Earns Elusive Quality 97 BSF

May 6, 2024

Dancing Buck earning his BSF in the Elusiv Quality. (Joe Labozzetta)

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – J and N Stables and Diamond M Stable’s graded stakes-winning New York-bred Dancing Buck was an impressive winner of Saturday’s Listed $150,000 Elusive Quality, a six-furlong outer turf sprint for older horses, at Belmont at the Big A.

Trained by Michelle Nevin, the 6-year-old War Dancer gelding was sent to the front by jockey Manny Franco to lead the nine-horse field through an opening quarter-mile of 22.40 seconds over the firm going as 2-1 mutuel favorite and course record holder Nothing Better reared up at the break and was slow away from the starting gate. 

“In the paddock, Manny and I talked about how [Dancing] Buck breaks well. He breaks sharp. You don’t want to take that away from the horse,” said Nevin. “If the other horse [Nothing Better] was going to out break us, then we were going to sit off him. If we out broke him, it was going to be the other way around.” 

Dancing Buck established a half-length advantage after the first quarter-mile and maintained it while pressured by dirt graded stakes-winner Durante through a half-mile in 44.60.

“When the four [Nothing Better] didn’t break, it was great that he was able to break so sharply and grab control of the race,” Nevin said. “I thought Manny gave him an excellent ride and when he asked him to finish up in the lane, he finished up strong.”

The pacesetting Dancing Buck would not relinquish the lead, extending to a 1 1/4-length victory over the oncoming charge of American Monarch in a final time of 1:07.58 

The effort was awarded a 97 Beyer Speed Figure, second only to his career-best 103 earned when successful in the six-furlong Grade 3 Belmont Turf Sprint in October 2022 at Belmont at the Big A. The figure also improved upon consecutive runner-up finishes sprinting 6 1/2-furlongs at Santa Anita Park when missing by a half-length in both the Grade 2 Joe Hernandez in December and the Grade 3 San Simeon on March 9 for conditioner Rick Dutrow, Jr. 

“Last summer, we missed a lot of opportunities because of the weather. He was very lightly raced. Our choices were either California or Florida,” said Nevin. “We thought California would be a better fit.”

Nevin said Dancing Buck exited the race in good order and could possibly make his next start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Jaipur presented by Resolute Racing, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up on June 8 at Saratoga Race Course. The Jaipur offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November at Del Mar. 

From its nine prior runnings, two Elusive Quality winners went on to capture the Jaipur next out with Casa Creed [2021] and New York-bred Disco Partner [2017]. Both horses took different routes the following year to defend their titles in the Jaipur. 

Bred by J & N Stables, Dancing Buck, out of the multiple stakes-placed Catienus mare Frivolous Buck, is a full-brother to Mz Big Bucks, who won the 2023 Cupecoy’s Joy division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series last June at Belmont Park. 

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