Brightwork Maintains Unblemished Record in G3 Adirondack

August 6, 2023

Brightwork pulls away to make the grade in the Adirondack (Jetta Vaughns)

By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— WSS Racing’s Brightwork posted a victorious graded stakes debut to keep her record unblemished through three outings, rallying from off the pace to score an emphatic win in Sunday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Adirondack, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies, at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by John Ortiz, the daughter of Outwork added to a debut maiden victory sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs in April at Keeneland and a last-out triumph when stretching out to six furlongs in the Debutante on July 2 at Ellis Park. The win marked the first stakes triumph at Saratoga for Ortiz, who won his first Spa race on July 28 in a maiden claiming event with Urgent Fury.

“After she broke her maiden at Keeneland, we were very confident. We already targeted this race specifically,” said Ortiz. “Working backwards from there, we knew the Debutante at Churchill Downs was going to be our second spot, so we gave her about 60 days in between races. Obviously, there’s nothing else to run in during the meet after you break your maiden at Keeneland. So, we played the waiting game. Bill Simon [owner] has been very patient. He’s a big supporter of the barn and obviously it means a lot to come up here for him with his horses. The sky is the limit with this filly.”

Brightwork (outside) makes her move turning for home in the Adirondack (Dom Napolitano)

Piloted to victory by meet-leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., Brightwork exited post 3 and sat in mid-pack as the Brad Cox-trained Here U Come Again was asked by Florent Geroux to lead the field through an opening quarter-mile in 22.01 seconds over the fast main track with Streaming Now, trained by Paolo Lobo, a half-length back in second.

“She broke so good. The outside horse, Paolo Lobo’s filly went and the horse inside, Brad Cox’s filly, she had speed, too,” said Ortiz, Jr. “They went ahead of me and I sat right behind them and my filly relaxed. I waited for my time to go and tip her out in the stretch. No one was close to me. I tipped her out and she was ready. She responded. She deserves all the credit.”

Brightwork tracked in a battle for third between Copper Em to her outside and Magic Cross to her inside down the backstretch through a half-mile in 45.33 before Copper Em dropped out of contention midway through the turn. Brightwork drifted wide exiting the turn and had her sights set on Here U Come Again along the rail and Magic Cross in the center of the course, digging in deep under left-handed encouragement from Ortiz, Jr.

Brightwork swept past her rivals with ease at the eighth pole, and while she drifted back inside several paths, kept on well to post the victory by five lengths in a final time of 1:16.85. A stubborn Here U Come Again fought on bravely to hold onto place honors by 3 3/4 lengths over Streaming Now with a tiring Magic Cross in fourth. Princess Indy, Princesa Celina, Becky’s Joker and Copper Em completed the order of finish. Cara’s Time and Saratoga Secret were scratched.

Ortiz, who started his first horse in 2016, enjoyed the fourth graded score of his career. He praised the maturity of Brightwork and said her calm demeanor helps her excel on the racetrack.

“She blows me away every time. Not only in the mornings, but in the afternoons. It magnifies what I see in the mornings,” said Ortiz. “She comes out of every race with such class. We were walking her up here and she had a lip shank and I told my brother [and assistant trainer Daniel Ortiz] to take it off. She doesn’t need that. She was cool and collected and very professional.”

Bill Simon of WSS Racing spoke highly of Ortiz’s skills, as well as his character.

Love for Brightwork from trainer John Ortiz (Susie Raisher)

“Racing is really interesting. The guys who keep getting [good] horses are wonderful trainers, we know they are. We could put our horses with them, but I think this sport needs good encouragement for good, young people if we want to sustain it,” said Simon. “Johnny is an incredibly intuitive horseman, a wonderful family guy, and we’re so excited about the opportunity to help and encourage them and give them support where we can.”

Ortiz added the Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway sprinting seven furlongs on September 3 at the Spa could serve as a stepping stone to longer two-turn races down the road with an eye to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in November at Santa Anita Park.

“Eventually, we’re going to try her two turns, but we’re going to head to the next spot here in Saratoga,” said Ortiz. “I’m feeling confident for that race right now. [The long-term goal] is the Breeders’ Cup. We’re looking for that purple saddle towel.”

Bred in Kentucky by Wynnstay and H. Allen Poindexter, Brightwork banked $110,000 in victory. The $95,000 Kentucky Fall Mixed Sale purchase returned $12.20 on a $2 win ticket.

Florent Geroux said he inherited the lead aboard Here U Come Again when no one else showed speed in the first hundred yards from the gate.

“Those young horses like this, you need to ride them the way it comes up. When you break good like this, you try to make sure she doesn’t have dirt kicked in her face,” said Geroux. “We would’ve been content sitting second or third but that’s the card I had been dealt, so I just played it by ear.”

Live racing resumes Wednesday at Saratoga with a 10-race card, featuring the $125,000 Johnstone Mile Handicap in Race 9. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.

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