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LOUISVILLE, KY – Silverton Hill homebred Next went to the lead early and never looked back, taking the field gate to wire in Saturday’s $150,000 War Chant Stakes at Churchill Downs.
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Next broke from the far outside post under John Velazquez at 2/1 odds in the field of four 3-year-old colts and outkicked his rivals for command heading into the clubhouse turn.
With Dyn O Mite giving closest chase but not applying direct pressure, Next posted comfortable opening fractions of :24.03, :48.40, and 1:12.53.
Still unchallenged as he rounded the far turn, the Wesley Ward trainee opened up in the stretch before winning the firm turf mile route by 3 3/4 lengths in 1:35.09.
“I knew he was a pretty speedy horse, so the situation worked out well today being on the front end,” Velazquez said. “He seems to do his best running when he can get a lead and he was able to get a pretty easy one today.”
Royal Prince took second by 2 3/4 lengths over the even-money favorite Helium, who headed Dyn O Mite for third to complete the order of finish.
Accredit, Starrininmydreams, In Effect, and El Kabong scratched.
Next’s win was his first at the stakes level and came in his second start of the year following an 11th-place showing in the local 1 1/8-mile American Turf Stakes (G2) on Kentucky Derby Day. The Not This Time colt’s overall record improved to 6-3-0-0 with $199,394 earned.
“He’s a really tough horse when he’s on the front end, and when he comes from behind, he’s just not the same horse,” Ward said. “I thought if he broke well and was on the front end, we’d have a great shot today.”
Next returned $6.60 to win and $3.20 to place. Royal Prince brought back $3 to place. There was no show betting.
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