California Shipper Wins by 1 3/4 Lengths
By Dick Downey
Quotes by Jennie Rees
Photo by Reed Palmer
Next Shares, a horse that loves Santa Anita, proved on Thursday that he also loves Kentucky Downs, winning the Old Friends Stakes under Drayden Van Dyke.
Trainer Richard Baltas shipped in Next Shares from California where he had most recently run a poor 12th in the Grade II Del Mar Mile after stalking the pace for six furlongs. He was made the favorite in the Old Friends off the strength of three on-the-board finishes in two Grade I's and a Grade III at Santa Anita this year. The Old Friends is for 3-year-olds and up that haven't won a stakes race in 2018.
With the first half-mile timed in a solid 48.50, Next Shares sat seven lengths off a pace set by Siem Riep down the backstretch and then Shut the Box around the turn. Van Dyke pulled the trigger rounding into the long stretch, and Next Shares was ahead by a length with an eighth-mile to go. He made it look easy from there, winning by 1 3/4 lengths.
Meanwhile, Siem Riep and James Graham, who had dropped back in the turn, came on again in upper stretch to compete with the eventual winner only to be passed by Parlor in deep stretch. But Siem Riep gamely outfought Parlor to the wire to get second place by a nose.
Flatlined finished fourth, two lengths back of Parlor, followed by Master Merion, Zapperini, Doctor Mounty, Siding Spring, Cowboy Culture, Bondurant and Shut the Box.
The race was timed in 1:41.79 going a mile and 70 yards.
Next Shares returned backers $7.80 to win, $4.80 to place and $3.80 to show. The winner's share of $145,700 from the $250,000 purse pushed Next Shares' total earnings to $467,697.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Buck Pond Farm, Inc. He's by Archarcharch out of Two Dot Slew, by Evansville Slew and is owned by Michael Iavarone, Jules Iavarone, Jerry McClanahan, Christopher Dunn, William Marasa, Ritchie Robershaw and Mark Taylor.
Richard Baltas: “He was too close the last couple times. He really wants to be back. He wants to be settled. Doesn’t want to be rushed at all. At Del Mar there were 13-horse fields and small turns. I don’t know if he really liked the Del Mar course. This was a good spot for him. (Drayden) was here and he’s the leading rider in California. He’s very good on the grass, and we were very happy to get Drayden. I think Drayden did an awesome job. I thought he might even be farther back. But he had him very relaxed, and that was the key. He’s just a beautiful horse. He always feels good. He’s a dark bay and he has a little white stripe down the middle of his back. He’s just a gorgeous horse. I said in the paddock before the race, if it was a beauty contest, we’d be in the winner’s circle. He’s just a really lovely horse.”
Drayden Van Dyke: “I loved where I was early on. I loved where I was early on, got where the horse was comfortable. I had a few setting the pace in front of me and was just being patient to let him run. He was on cruise control, nice and relaxed, just loping around there. He was there for me the whole time. Richard did a great job with him. The money (here) is amazing There’s no place like this for this amount of money in maiden special weights and what not. That’s an early birthday present already. So thank you, Richard.”
Ben Colebrook, trainer of Siem Riep: “I’d love to have a bunch like him. He just shows up every time. Got beat by a better horse. I don’t think he loved it; probably a little softer than he likes. He likes it really, really firm. But taking nothing from the winner.”
Joe Rocco, Jr., rider of Flatlined: “I thought he ran great. “He left there with them today, but he took himself back going up the hill. But they went quick enough. It feels like he’s back to himself. He was running on at the end, and he ran inside. They were way too strung out to try to get around all of them.”
Baltas told Michael Blowen, president and founder of Old Friends, that he shipped Next Shares to Kentucky Downs because he wanted to win the stakes so Next Shares could retire to Old Friends after his racing career ends.
“That’s what he told me,” Blowen said cheerfully. “I don’t even care if he’s lying; it’s such a good story. He’s a really, really nice horse. I told him we’re in no hurry."