Goodnight Olive Makes Big Class Leap With Ballerina Win, Earns Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint Berth

After tracking the early pace from third, Goodnight Olive powered clear in the stretch to win the $500,000 Ballerina Handicap (G1) in her stakes debut Sunday at Saratoga.

With Irad Irad Otiz Jr. riding for trainer Chad Brown, Goodnight Olive won by 2 ¾ lengths and covered seven furlongs in 1: 21.40 to stay perfect in three starts this year while scoring a fifth consecutive win.

With the victory Goodnight Olive earned an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) in  November at Keeneland via the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series.

Goodnight Olive tracked a close third down the backstretch while dual graded stakes winner Travel Column and Bella Sofia, winner of last year’s Longines Test (G1), battled through an opening quarter-mile in :22.09over the fast main track. Goodnight Olive advanced into second approaching the turn, passing a tiring Bella Sofia and with Travel Column still the one to catch. Through a half-mile in :44.50, Goodnight Olive inched her way up to even terms with the pacesetter as graded stakes winner Caramel Swirl advanced into third on the outside.

Goodnight Olive swept past Travel Column passing the quarter pole with Caramel Swirl advancing into second and Obligatory, seven wide on the turn, launching a late bid. But Goodnight Olive had plenty in reserve to prove best.

A 4-year-old daughter of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper,Goodnight Olive brought a four-race win streak into her stakes debut . In her two previous starts, she won allowance-optional claiming events at seven and 6 1/2 furlongs by 9 1/4 combined lengths, the latter coming August 7 at Saratoga.

Caramel Swirl was second and Obligatory rallied from last in the seven-horse field to be third, 1 1/2 lengths back. Champion female sprinter and favorite Ce Ce was never a factor in a fifth-place finish. Bella Sofia dropped back approaching the half-mile pole, chased inside to the two path around the turn, then faded to finish last

Goodnight Olive, who is owned by First Row Partners and Team Hanley, returned $13.60.

Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings bred Goodnight Olive in Kentucky from the multiple graded stakes-winning Smart Strike mare Salty Strike, a direct descendant of  foundation mare Almahmoud, whose daughter Natalma produced breed-shaping sire Northern Dancer. She sold to First Row Partners for $170,000 in the Summerfield consignment at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale.

G1 Ballerina Handicap Quotes

Chad Brown, winning trainer of Goodnight Olive (No. 7, $13.60): “It played out just exactly as we thought. We thought she’d be laying roughly third – we talked about it in the paddock – off a hot pace, so Irad [Ortiz, Jr.] and I were both on the same page; don’t get involved so much with the pace but don’t be too far away. She drew beautiful with the seven post. Of all the options in the world, I was very pleased after the draw. I thought we had a good shot in the race, but it was a deep field. As I was handicapping the race this afternoon, I could make a case for five, maybe six horses that, if they ran their very best today, could win. Beautiful ride by Irad, beautiful post.

“I want to thank my team and all these beautiful partners that are in the picture here. There’s been more not good phone calls about this filly than good phone calls. She hasn’t run a lot. A lot of stop and go with her, not unlike her dad who I worked with, Ghostzapper. Maybe not on the track often, but very talented. She’s had some soundness issues, but the team of owners always let me do the right thing, take my time with this horse and never push her beyond what she was ready to do. She finally got it all together. She’s nice and sound and healthy, and I appreciate their patience.

“When she is on the track running, which hasn’t been a lot, she’s doing it with ease and unchallenged. You only get a few shots at these big Grade 1 races at a distance that I think might be perfect for her. Only back on three weeks, we thought we’d take a shot and it worked out.”

On a potential start before the Breeders’ Cup: “I don’t know if I’ll run her between now and [the Breeders’ Cup]. She just ran back in three weeks, that’d be the reason. We’ll see how she’s doing. With her, you can’t take anything for granted. She’s had a lot of stoppages, but now she’s good. Knock on wood, she stays that way.”

“She’s had a couple times to have chips out of her ankles. Twice we’ve had to deal with them. I’m fortunate for our team at Rood and Riddle to Dr. Bramlage and to my team, taking care of this filly. She’s come back well. We’re just trying to keep her on track.”

On running in an allowance in prep for the Ballerina after the Shine Again did not fill: “That’s another example of some patience. The Shine Again didn’t go and there wasn’t really an option. I said, ‘Let’s run in this allowance race and not just try to train up to this race. I know it’s back in three weeks, but I think she’ll need a race in between.’ You run the risk of back in three weeks and she doesn’t run as well. Like they’ve always done, they deferred to me and said it’s fine. We had not planned on running in an allowance at Saratoga, we did it, she was successful, she escaped the allowance healthy and had to come back in three weeks and do this.

“What a wonderful sight. She’s the only clean horse in the field. Again, it supports my feeling about the post position. I think what you see there played a big role as well.”

Irad Ortiz Jr., winning jockey aboard Goodnight Olive (No. 7): They were going a little fast, but she was going the right way. She was relaxed and in a good spot. I bided my time and waited. Turning for home, she was there for me.

“She always wins the right way. In the allowance races, you could see how easy she won. She’s a nice filly but she had never faced Grade 1 horses in the afternoon, but she did it today and she showed up. The trainer picked the races for her step by step, didn’t rush, and today the patience paid off.

“She’s very tactical. She can do anything. She can be on the front. She can sit off of the speed. She can be at the back and she always shows up. She’s nice.”

Junior Alvarado, jockey aboard runner up Caramel Swirl (No. 3): “I thought she ran great. She gave me a good run at the end. I had a good trip down inside on the rail and never had to check. I might have had a shot to take the winner, but she kept on and she [No. 7, Goodnight Olive] ran great, too. I was very pleased with her run today.

“There was a little bit of a question mark because she hasn’t run for a bit, but I was very pleased with the way she ran today and I know moving forward she can keep getting closer [to a Grade 1].”

On picking up a Grade 1 placing with trainer Bill Mott after winning the Grade 1 Forego with Mott-trained Cody’s Wish yesterday: “It’s been great. That’s what I’m here working for every morning. It’s been paying off. I’m very thankful to Billy Mott and all the trainers for the support. I can’t thank them enough.”

Victor Espinoza, jockey aboard fifth-place finisher and post-time favorite Ce Ce (No. 1): “She’s a little bit picky when it comes to the track and today it was not her favorite. She bounced out of there and she wasn’t doing her thing. I was just trying to encourage her to get her rhythm but it seemed like she struggled. I tried to get her outside and hoped. I tried everything I can and hopefully she could go forward. But it’s one of those things where if she doesn’t like the track she will not run. She will be OK. She will get them next time. The most important thing is that she comes out good and we’ll go for the next.”

The post Goodnight Olive Makes Big Class Leap With Ballerina Win, Earns Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint Berth appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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