Last time out, Next Shares provided for his long-term future by winning the Old Friends S. at Kentucky Downs, and a guaranteed spot at the retirement farm. On Saturday, he secured a nearer-term guaranteed spot – a free ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) – by upsetting the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland.
Overlooked at 23-1 in a hotly competitive field, the Richard Baltas trainee burst through a gap on the inside to win by 3 1/4 lengths and paid $48.80. The 81-1 Great Wide Open, also last seen at Kentucky Downs when runner-up in the Tourist Mile, completed the improbable exacta worth $984.10 ($1).
The drama started just before the race when Divisidero was a vet scratch. According to the Blood-Horse’s Alicia Wincze Hughes, he sustained an injury in the starting gate but appeared OK when leaving the course.
At least the Shadwell pace unfolded predictably, with front runners Heart to Heart and Voodoo Song in a tussle for the lead. Heart to Heart won the battle through fractions of :23.37 and :47.14, edging away at the six-furlong mark in 1:12.24, but lost the war down the lane. Although the course had been upgraded officially from yielding to “good,” the pacesetter’s lack of punch late, and the field’s getting strung out like steeplechasers, suggest there was considerable moisture in the ground.
The rail-drawn Next Shares, nestled in sixth early by Tyler Gaffalione, improved his position on the far turn. Initially angling as though looking for another path, Gaffalione glimpsed the wide open rail, and steered Next Shares into the seam. The Archarcharch gelding needed no further encouragement, picking up best of all to win his second straight stakes and complete the mile in 1:36.97.
Great Wide Open, forwardly placed throughout, held second by 1 1/2 lengths from the closing Qurbaan. The 2-1 favorite, sophomore Analyze It, loomed briefly before flattening out in fourth. Big Score rallied from last for fifth, and Mr. Misunderstood, Synchrony, Almanaar, Heart to Heart, Multiplier, Bound for Nowhere, Voodoo Song, and Imperative rounded out the order of finish.
Owned by the partnership of Michael Iavarone, Jules Iavarone, Jerry McClanahan, Christopher T. Dunn, William Marasa, Ritchie Robershaw, and Mark Taylor, Next Shares became a millionaire with a bankroll of $1,067,697. His 20-5-4-2 resume reflects a handful of stakes placings, from the 2015 With Anticipation (G2) for original trainer Bill Mott to this year’s Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1), Shoemaker Mile (G1), Thunder Road (G3), and Joe Hernandez for Baltas. His current connections purchased him for $190,000 at Keeneland last November.
The Buck Pond Farm-bred gelding is a half-brother to multiple stakes winner and Grade 3-placed Angelica Zapata. Their dam, the multiple stakes-placed Evansville Slew mare Two Dot Slew, is in turn out of a full sister to the late California patriarch Unusual Heat.
Earlier in the $400,000 First Lady (G1) over the same course and distance, Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, and Bethlehem Stables’ A Raving Beauty won a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
A change of tactics by new rider Johnny Velazquez helped the Chad Brown mare regain winning form. Her sharp turn of foot had been employed successfully from off the pace in her first two U.S. starts, the Beaugay (G3) and Just a Game (G1), but luck deserted her at Saratoga. After a troubled fourth in the Diana (G1), she ran evenly in fourth in the Ballston Spa (G2) behind the wire-to-wire Quidura.
On Saturday, following the scratch of likely pacesetter La Sardane, Velazquez took the early initiative aboard A Raving Beauty. Quidura, the 8-5 favorite, conceded the point, and the 3-1 A Raving Beauty dictated terms the rest of the way. Carving out splits of :24.40, :49.11, and 1:13.76, the German-bred forged clear entering the stretch.
Dona Bruja was the only rival able to threaten, staying on strongly inside the final sixteenth to cause an anxious moment or two for the leader. But A Raving Beauty stuck on in determined fashion and kept her head in front on the wire in 1:37.78.
British shipper Indian Blessing rallied to snatch third from French invader Crown Walk, who stalked throughout. Pace-prompting Valadorna tired to fifth. Sixth-placer Insta Erma lost all chance at the start, crumbling to her knees as though attempting to do a split, and did well to get back into stride with Gaffalione still in the saddle. Quidura retreated tamely in seventh, trailed by Off Limits and One Liz.
A Raving Beauty has now joined millionaires’ row with earnings of $1,018,483 from her 22-6-3-3 record. The daughter of Mastercraftsman ranked as Germany’s highweight older female in the 9 1/2 to 11-furlong range, thanks to a 2017 campaign featuring a pair of listed wins and runner-up efforts in the Premio Lydia Tesio (G1) and the Grosser Preis der Landeshauptstadt Dusseldorf (G3) versus males. She was exported after selling for €225,000 ($264,870) at Arqana last December.
Bred by Gestut Karlshof, A Raving Beauty was produced by Anabasis, a High Chaparral half-sister to multiple German highweight Alianthus.