'Best shot': Goodnight Olive will start next in Bed o' Roses

'Best shot': Goodnight Olive will start next in Bed o' Roses
Photo: Carolyn Simancik / Eclipse Sportswire

The connections of Goodnight Olive have decided to take the path of least resistance by pointing her toward the Grade 2 Bed o’ Roses on June 17 at Belmont Park.

The defending female sprint champion, trained by Chad Brown, had been nominated to the Metropolitan (G1) and also had been under consideration for the Ogden Phipps (G1) next Saturday as part of a stakes-rich undercard for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.

Steve Laymon, who helps to manage the 5-year-old Ghostzapper mare on behalf of First Row Partners, told Horse Racing Nation that they might have taken a shot against the boys in the Met Mile another year. They do not believe she is a good fit for the upcoming salty edition.

“Even though you get weight in a race like that, it just came up tough this year,” he said. “You’ve got Cody’s Wish, Taiba, just some tough horses.”

As for the 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps, the determination was made not to extend her in distance and to give her a little more time after a hard-luck third-place finish in the May 6 Derby City Distaff (G1) marked her first loss since her March 2, 2021, debut at Gulfstream Park.

Goodnight Olive has earned $1,466,200 on behalf of First Row Partners, which co-owns the mare with Team Hanley. Laymon said the decision was made by trainer Chad Brown after discussion with the partners.

Although Goodnight Olive has a significant history of injuries that have limited her to nine career starts, Laymon said, “I have not seen any issues with her at all. You know, sprinters run hard, so time between races quite often is important.”

Laymon added, “She is a very valuable asset. We don’t want to do anything to make her less valuable. This is her last year of racing, so we want to give her the best shot every time we lead her over there.”

Goodnight Olive looms as a prohibitive favorite in the seven-furlong Bed o’ Roses. After she opened this season with a solid one-length victory in the April 8 Madison Stakes (G1) at Keeneland for her third consecutive Grade 1 score, the rousing winner of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. found themselves hopelessly boxed in during the late stages of the Derby City Distaff.

“She never got a chance to stretch her legs,” Laymon said.

Goodnight Olive has worked three times at Belmont Park since that exasperating defeat. She covered four furlongs in 50.44 seconds on Saturday, ranking 64th of 77 at the distance.

Part of the thinking involved in bringing Goodnight Olive back at 5 involved an attempt to demonstrate another dimension by extending her in distance. Brown and the owners are re-thinking that.

“There is still that opportunity, but I’m not sure what we’ll do now,” Laymon said.

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