Rallying on the rail into and through the stretch, 26-1 longshot Next Shares and jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. won the Grade II $200,000 Seabiscuit Handicap Saturday at Del Mar. Next Shares won Kentucky Downs' 2018 Old Friends Stakes, followed by Keeneland's Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile in his next start. This year he was seventh in Kentucky Downs' $750,000 Tourist Mile while dealing with firmer turf than the gelding prefers.
"I think for him it's always good to have a little cut in the ground," said trainer Richard Baltas. "He doesn't like the firm turf, he likes it a little softer. It was very rewarding. I never gave up on him (1 for 7 in 2019); he just had a couple bad trips. I didn't do any rain dances. I'm running seven or eight horses on the grass and those that like it will run well and those that don't won't. This horse was ready today and had a great trip."
When the leading horses drifte out turning into the stretch, Next Shares took advantage of the opportunity to surge to the lead and then had enough left to resist the late challenge of 3-2 favorite Sacred Life an win by a half-length. He covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.00 and paid $56.40 to win.
River Boyne was third, a hea back of the runner-up and 1 1/2 lengths in advance of fourth-place Majestic Eagle in the field of nine older horses.
"I had to wait for room," Valdivia sai. "... The hole opened up for me, and this horse was there. I knew I was on a lot of horse all the way. I just needed a spot to run.
Next Shares, a Kentucky-bred son of Archarcharch, scored his seventh victory in 29 starts, picking up $120,000 to increase his career bank roll to $1,677,771.