LEXINGTON, KY – Trainer Richard Baltas’ Next Shares became racing’s newest millionaire on Saturday after he stormed home victorious in the Grade 1, $1,000,000 Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes at Keeneland.
The Turf Mile is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Next Shares receiving an automatic berth in the Mile at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Breaking from the rail under Tyler Gaffalione at 23/1 odds, Next Shares sat an inside trip in midpack while Heart to Heart and Voodoo Song dueled up front through opening fractions of :23.37 and :47.14. While the latter folded up in the far turn, the former continued to hold on until the turn for home, when Next Shares found a hole along the rail and darted through quickly. Continuing to draw off convincingly, Next Shares hit the wire with a 3 1/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:36.97 for the 8-furlong event over the good turf surface.
“I had a lot of horse while I was getting there,” Gaffalione said. “I was just hoping it would stay open long enough. Credit to the trainer and the owners. They did a great job with him – I just had to hang on. I was a little closer (to the pace) than I thought I would be, but he was running so easily, I didn’t want to take anything away from him.”
Though he was poised to take over once Heart to Heart began to weaken, Great Wide Open flattened in the stretch and held second, far outrunning his 81/1 odds. Qurbaan took third by a 1/2-length over the 2/1 favorite Analyze It, with Big Score another 1/2-length back in fifth, Mr. Misunderstood a 1/2-length back in sixth, and Synchrony only a head behind in seventh. The rest of the field was much farther behind. Almanaar took eighth over Heart to Heart, with Multiplier, Bound for Nowhere, Voodoo Song, and Imperative completing the order of finish. Divisidero was scratched after his right hind leg was stuck on the gate, though reports were that he appeared to be sound as he walked off the track and back to the barn. Holiday Stone and Zulu Alpha were scratched as also-eligibles in the overdrawn field.
Next Shares’ win was his second straight following his long-awaited first career stakes score in last month’s $250,000 Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs. The 5-year-old gelded son of Archarcharch now carries a record of 20-5-4-2 with earnings of $1,067,697 for owners Michael Iavarone, Jules Iavarone, Jerry McClanahan, Christopher Dunn, William Marasa, Ritchie Robershaw, and Mark Taylor.
“It was a breakthrough race at Kentucky Downs,” Baltas said. “He’s had a lot of seconds and beats by a nose, but he won pretty easy last time. We took a shot here. Obviously, he was training unbelievable, a credit to everyone that works with the horse. We got a great trip. Thought we were a little close in the beginning, but that’s why you don’t tell the jockeys too much.”
Next Shares returned $48.80 to win, $22.20 to place, and $13 to show. Great Wide Open brought back $58.60 to place and $26.60 to show, while Qurbaan paid $7.40 to show.