Leading every step of the way, Next romps to victory in the Brooklyn (Joe Labozzetta)
By Keith McCalmont – NYRA Press Office
ELMONT, N.Y.— Michael A. Foster’s Next, expertly piloted by Luan Machado, made every pole a winning one in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Brooklyn, a 1 1/2-mile marathon for older horses over Big Sandy at Belmont Park.
Trained by William D. Cowans, the 5-year-old Not This Time gelding has now won three of his last four starts, including scores under Machado in the 12-furlong off-the-turf Cape Henlopen in September at Delaware Park ahead of making the grade in the 1 5/8-miles Grade 2 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance in November at Keeneland.
“This horse likes to go to the lead and get into a rhythm,” Cowans said. “Everything today went just as we planned. Go to the lead, slow it down as slow as we could and try to keep a length in front the whole way. It worked out just the way we wanted.”
Next led the charge into the first turn from post 5 with graded-stakes winner Warrant following in second position to the inside of stakes-winner Calibrate as the opening quarter-mile elapsed in 24.37 seconds over the fast main track.
Next dictated the tempo through splits of 50.02, 1:16.12 and 1:41.62 as Warrant continued to track from second while Red Run, Calibrate and Portos stalked in the second flight of a spread out 10-horse field.
Red Run, whose full brother Red Route One will contest the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets later in the card, made a move up the rail approaching the final turn as Bright Future was given his cue by Irad Ortiz, Jr. But a freewheeling Next continued to thrive through the turn, putting away Warrant and bounding away to a six-length lead at the stretch call under confident handling. Calibrate came with a late run under Ruben Silvera, but there was no threat to Next, who crossed the wire a 2 1/4-length winner in a final time of 2:31.01.
It was a further 3 1/4-lengths back to Red Run in third with Warrant, Portos, Forewarned, Centavo, Bright Future, Alfio and Code Runner rounding out the order of finish. Lone Rock was scratched.
Machado earned his first career graded score with Next in the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and credited the grey with advancing his career.
“I didn’t expect it to be that slow in front, but that helped me out a lot in the end,” Machado said. “When they came to me before the quarter pole and they checked on him, he just answered right back and I felt like I had a lot of horse left. I was pretty happy at that point.
“He was my first graded stakes victory,” continued Machado. “He’s got me started riding at the better tracks. It’s not easy to find a good one like this and be able to ride. I’m very thankful for Cowans and the owners for giving me the opportunity. They’ve been supporting me for years.”
Next, out of the multiple stakes-placed Awesome Again mare Bahia Beach, was haltered for $62,500 last April at Keeneland and has since posted a record of 6-4-0-1 for his current connections.
“I had watched him all winter at Turfway Park and liked this horse. I took a shot on him,” Cowans said. “I was not always thinking distance for him. After I got the horse, I got the horse in his breezes [and] I noticed he had a lot of stamina after the breeze. I told these guys he wants to get into a rhythm with a slow pace and I think he’ll stretch on out from there.”
Cowans said Next will now target a start in the 1 3/4-mile $150,000 Birdstone on July 27 at Saratoga Race Course
Calibrate, now trained by Jamie Ness, won the 12-furlong Temperence Hill in April at Oaklawn ahead of a last-out fifth in the Isaac Murphy Marathon in May at Churchill Downs while in the care of conditioner Coty Rosin.
Silvera said his charge dug in gamely but was no match for the winner.
“I tried [to find] cover behind the horses and waited for the end, but you know, that horse was a monster. He got out in front of us and if he wins, he wins,” Silvera said.
Bred in Kentucky by Silverton Hill, Next banked $137,500 in victory while improving his record to 17-7-0-1. He returned $8.70 for a $2 win bet.
Live racing resumes Sunday at Belmont with an 11-race card, featuring the $150,000 Astoria in Race 2, the $150,000 Jersey Girl in Race 5, the $150,000 Tremont in Race 9 and the Grade 2, $200,000 Wonder Again in Race 10. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.