DEL MAR, CA – After trailing patiently for much of the early running, Next Shares came running late along the rail to upset Saturday’s $200,000 Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) at Del Mar.
Breaking from post 3 at 27/1 odds under Jose Valdivia, Jr., Next Shares saved ground and stalked from sixth as the field passed the judges for the first time. Up front, recent Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) runner-up Om set the pace through opening fractions of :23.51, :47.96, and 1:12.11.
Still waiting for running room as he exited the far turn, Next Shares had to steer out and back in at the top of the stretch before finding space near the turf chute’s connection point. Continuing to run sharply in the stretch, Next Shares held off a late-rallying Sacred Life by a 1/2-length for victory. The Richard Baltas trainee completed the 1 1/16-mile event over the good turf course in a final time of 1:42.00.
“I had to wait for room (on the turn),” said Valdivia, Jr., who moved his tack to Del Mar at the start of the meet but had been winless in 16 local starts prior to the Seabiscuit. “I was between Flavien (Prat on River Boyne) and Johnny (Velazquez on Ritzy A. P.). When Flavien went one way, I went the other. The hole opened up for me and this horse was there. I knew I was on a lot of horse all the way; I just needed a spot to run.”
Sent off as the 3/2 favorite due in part to his 3-1-2-0 record over this distance, Sacred Life was unable to catch the eventual winner in time and had to settle for second, just a head over River Boyne. Majestic Eagle headed Prince Earl for fourth, while Om faded to finish a 1/2-length behind them in sixth.
Completing the order of finish came Andesh, Ritzy A. P., and Ronald R. The lone scratch was Cleopatra’s Strike.
Next Shares’ win was his first since taking the San Gabriel Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park on January 5 and improved his record to 29-7-4-2. The 6-year-old gelded son of Archarcharch has now earned $1,677,771 for co-owners Richard and Debbie Baltas, Christopher Dunn, Michael and Jules Iavarone, Jerry McClanahan, Ritchie Robershaw, and Mark Taylor.
“I think, for him, it’s always good to have a little cut in the ground,” winning conditioner Baltas said. “He doesn’t like the firm turf; he likes it a little softer. It was very rewarding. I never gave up on him (in 2019); he just had a couple bad trips. I didn’t do any rain dances. I’m running seven or eight horses on the grass, and those that like it will run well, and those that don’t, won’t. This horse was ready today and had a great trip.”
Next Shares returned $56.40 to win, $14.40 to place, and $8 to show. Sacred Life brought back $3.40 to place and $2.60 to show, while River Boyne paid $3.80 to show.