Goodnight Olive Rebounds With Neck Victory in G2 Bed o’ Roses

June 17, 2023

Goodnight Olive nails Wicked Halo at the wire in the Bed o’ Roses (Janet Garaguso)

By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office

ELMONT, N.Y.— Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. earned his fifth win on Saturday’s 10-race card when guiding First Row Partners and Team Hanley’s reigning Champion Female Sprinter Goodnight Olive to victory in the Grade 2, $200,000 Bed o’ Roses, a seven-furlong main track sprint for older fillies and mares, at Belmont Park.

In addition to the Bed o’ Roses, Ortiz, Jr.’s Saturday victories included two others with Brown-trained horses, taking the first race aboard Mischievous Angel and the eighth aboard Exact Estimate. His other wins came in the second race aboard the Kelly Breen-trained Photon and the fifth race atop impressive maiden winner Donegal Forever for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.

A five-win day for Irad Ortiz, Jr. (Janet Garaguso)

“It means a lot. It’s a lot of hard work,” said Ortiz. Jr., who leads the Belmont spring/summer meet riding standings with 43 wins. “People don’t know the hard work we do for this to try and win races. All I do right now is work and go home and rest and come back and ride again. I feel blessed to be in this position and that God allows me to win these kinds of races and to ride every day. The support from the owners and trainers has been amazing and my agent, Steve Rushing, does a great job.”

Goodnight Olive, trained by four-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, earned her second win of the year and rebounded from a last-out third-place finish in the Grade 1 Derby City Distaff in May at Churchill Downs where she was boxed in down the lane by returning rival Wicked Halo and saw the end of a seven-race win streak. The daughter of Ghostzapper found the winner’s circle again with a patient off-the-pace trip under Ortiz, Jr. after saving ground down the backstretch and swinging four-wide for the stretch drive.

Away well from the inside post, Goodnight Olive showed speed but was taken back by Ortiz, Jr. and passed by Wicked Halo and the sharp Beguine to her outside, with the latter taking command through an opening quarter-mile in 22.90 seconds over the fast main track as Goodnight Olive trailed in last-of-5.

“She always breaks good, so I let her be her,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “Wicked Halo broke good and the two [Beguine] has speed, so they went and I took a little hold and let her be where she’s happy. I waited for the time to go and she was there for me.”

Goodnight Olive preserved her inside position approaching the turn as Wicked Halo was asked for more by Jose Ortiz and Beguine gave way. A loaded Caramel Swirl was widest of all mid-turn and ranged up with a menacing bid under Junior Alvarado and appeared poised to take an easy lead as Goodnight Olive lacked room on the inside to pass her foes after a half-mile in 46.09. Ortiz, Jr. swung the dark bay mare four-wide to the outside of the leading pair at the top of the lane and took dead aim at Caramel Swirl and Wicked Halo.

Caramel Swirl put her head in front of a stubborn Wicked Halo at the eighth pole with Goodnight Olive gaining with every stride down the center of the course, but Wicked Halo had something left in the final sixteenth and put a neck ahead of Caramel Swirl. Ortiz, Jr. showed Goodnight Olive the crop on her right side and made one final push in the final strides to nail Wicked Halo just before the wire, earning the neck victory in a final time of 1:22.39.

Wicked Halo held second three-quarter lengths ahead of Caramel Swirl with Dr B, who was never a threat, and Beguine completing the order of finish.

Brown, who won his third Bed o’ Roses, said the heads-up ride by Ortiz, Jr. was key to the victory.

“She got there. I was really proud of her,” said Brown, who also won the Grade 3 Eatontown at Monmouth Park with Consumer Spending minutes after the Bed o’ Roses. “She made multiple moves in the race. I thought each time Irad moved with her and used her, it was with good judgement. He used her out of the gate to get the flow of the race going to make everyone sort of clear him to get the pace going.

Hugs for a champion (Susie Raisher)

“Then, he had a tricky decision at the three-eighths marker to either ease her back around Caramel Swirl and the tiring four horse [Dr B], or bide his time and go inside the four and then outside Caramel Swirl and that proved to really be the difference winning by a head [neck],” Brown added. “I think if he had taken her back and circled, I’m quite sure it would have been too much for her to get there in time. He gave her a great ride like he has every time he’s ridden her.”

Goodnight Olive notched the fourth graded coup of her career, adding to wins in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga Race Course and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Keeneland last year as part of her Championship season, and Keeneland’s Grade 1 Madison in her seasonal debut this year. She boasts total purse earnings of $1,576,200, over nine times her purchase price of $170,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale.

Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Goodnight Olive banked $110,000 in victory and improved her lifetime record to 10-8-1-1. She returned $2.60 for a $2 win wager as the 1-5 post-time favorite.

Ortiz, Jr., a four-time Eclipse Award-winning rider, is nearing 200 wins this year, which includes 25 graded triumphs. The 30-year-old native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico said maintaining a career at racing’s highest level has been a rewarding experience.

“I’m just enjoying myself and what is happening in my career right now. I’m so glad. It was a dream before and now it’s happening and it’s real,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “I’m just trying to stay as long as I can where I am and keep going forward. The sky is the limit. I keep learning every day. I learn from my mistakes and move forward. I just want to be remembered by everybody for what I do.”

Live racing resumes Sunday at Belmont with a nine-race card, featuring the NYSSS Spectacular Bid in Race 5 and the NYSSS Cupecoy’s Joy in Race 8. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

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