June 18, 2019

Next Shares earns stakes breakthrough in Old Friends

Next Shares took top honors as an 'Old Friend for Life' with a secure retirement home (Photo by Reed Palmer/Kentucky Downs)

Fresh off wrapping up his first Del Mar riding title on Monday, jockey Drayden Van Dyke carried his momentum to Kentucky Downs Thursday and landed the $250,000 Old Friends S. aboard Southern California shipper Next Shares.

The nearly 3-1 favorite was scoring a stakes breakthrough after a series of placings, including a pair of half-length losses in the March 10 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) and the May 28 Shoemaker Mile (G1). Aside from the black-type laurel and $145,700 winner’s check, Next Shares earned another perk – a guaranteed retirement home at Old Friends once his racing days are over.

The featured event anchored a festive “Old Friends Day” at Kentucky Downs. Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith was on hand to sign prints of Triple Crown winner Justify to benefit the non-profit Thoroughbred retirement facility, as well as the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund and The Giving Circle.

The Richard Baltas-trained Next Shares was reserved well behind a three-way pace scrum that unfolded among Siem Riep, Shut the Box, and Siding Spring. The trio sped clear of the field through fractions of :24.18 and :48.50 on the firm course. Siem Riep eased back momentarily to allow the other two to duke it out, and angled out to regain the lead at the six-furlong mark in 1:13.12.

But the pack was now closing in, and Next Shares produced the strongest bid on the outside. Sweeping to the fore down the lane, he prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths while nearly equaling the course record. Next Shares negotiated one mile and 70 yards in 1:41.79, just missing the mark of 1:41.70 set by Rusty Slipper in 2015.

Siem Riep gamely held second in a photo from Parlor. Next came Flatlined, Master Merion, Zapperini, Doctor Mounty, Siding Spring, Cowboy Culture, Bondurant, and Shut the Box. Four were withdrawn – Undrafted, Dimension, Conquest Panthera, and All Right.

Now an “Old Friend for Life,” Next Shares has compiled a mark of 19-4-4-2, $467,697. His first stakes credit was a runner-up effort in the 2015 With Anticipation (G2) at Saratoga, but he didn’t return to that level until changing hands at Keeneland last November for $190,000. As a new recruit for Baltas, he placed in the Joe Hernandez and Thunder Road (G3) en route to his aforementioned Grade 1 tilts. Next Shares did not have much luck at Del Mar, winding up sixth in the Eddie Read (G2) and 12th in the Del Mar Mile (G2), but returned to form here for co-owners Michael Iavarone, Jules Iavarone, Jerry McClanahan, Christopher T. Dunn, William Marasa, Ritchie Robershaw, and Mark Taylor.

Next Shares was bred by Buck Pond Farm in Kentucky. The Archarcharch gelding is a half-brother to multiple stakes victress and Grade 3-placed Angelica Zapata (by Sharp Humor). Their dam, the multiple stakes-placed Evansville Slew mare Two Dot Slew, is herself out of a full sister to Unusual Heat.