Next Shares, winner of Kentucky Downs' 2018 Old Friends Stakes, and jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. won the Grade II $200,000 Seabiscuit Handicap Saturday at Del Mar. Next Shares won Keeneland's Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile in his next start after the Old Friends. This year he was seventh in Kentucky Downs' $750,000 Tourist Mile while dealing with firmer turf than the gelding prefers. "It was very rewarding. I never gave up on him," said trainer Richard Baltas.
Next Shares heads into Saturday’s $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf off of a 3-for-4 win streak that started in Kentucky Downs’ Old Friends Stakes, America's richest grass race. We'll be simulcasting it at Kentucky Downs!
Kentucky Downs' Old Friends winner Next Shares got up in the final stride for a nose victory in Santa Anita's $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes. Having won three of his last four starts, the gelding now is headed to the $7 million Pegasus World Cup.
Old Friends winner Next Shares and Tourist Mile runner-up Great Wide Open made it a lucrative Kentucky Downs exacta ($984 for $1) in Saturday’s $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. Next Shares went off at 23-1 odds when he defeated 81-1 shot Great Wide Open by 3 1/4 lengths.
(Photo: Insta Erma gave jockey Drayden Van Dyke and trainer Richard Baltas their second stakes victory of the Kentucky Downs meet. Reed Palmer Photography)
Insta Erma, under a patient ride by Drayden Van Dyke, earned her first graded stakes victory in taking the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes from off the pace to beat Valadorna by a neck. The winner is trained by Richard Baltas, who teamed with Van Dyke to win the Old Friends Stakes at the track on Thursday with Next Shares. “I’m riding good horses, that’s key,” said Van Dyke, fresh off his first riding title at a major California track when he won the Del Mar crown.
Next Shares, a horse that loves Santa Anita, proved on Thursday that he also loves Kentucky Downs, winning the $250,000 Old Friends Stakes under Drayden Van Dyke by 1 3/4-lengths over Siem Riep. A total of $5,815,464.58 was wagered on the 10-race card, fourth-highest all time and the highest for a weekday. There was $5,402,255 bet on the first Thursday last year.