Next Question, expertly handled by Ramon
Dominguez, fended off a late charge from Night Carnation by a
half-length to win the $500,000 Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes, Sunday at
Woodbine, part of the Pattison Canadian International undercard.
The six furlong race, a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In event run over a ‘good’ E.P. Taylor Turf Course, drew 11 hopefuls. But
the winner, trained by Michael Trombetta, was overlooked by the public,
dismissed at 16-1 in his stakes debut, as the four-year-old gelded son
of Stormy Atlantic got home in 1:09.32.
Bear Tough Tiger and
Next Question duked it out from the beginning, through an opening
quarter in :23.03 and a half in :45.71, as the field turned for home.
The pacesetters both
hung tough the rest of the way, before Night Carnation, one of two
fillies in the field, made a belated bid to just miss. Bear
Tough Tiger hung on for third, a half-length further back and a similar
margin in front of the mild 5-2 favourite Big Band Sound, who rallied
from way back on the outside to finish fourth.
It was the second
consecutive win for Next Question, who had entered the Nearctic fresh
from an easy seven furlong turf allowance score at Belmont Park on
September 12. Last year, he’d broken his maiden in May
over Woodbine’s Polytrack, his last start of the year, before starting
his campaign this year in New York.
The winner, by virtue of
today’s victory, earns an all-expenses paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup
Turf Sprint on November 3 at Santa Anita. He was also supplemented to the Nearctic at a cost of $10,000. Today’s winning purse rewarded owner Three Diamonds Farm with $300,000.
“I knew judging by the
paper (Daily Racing Form) that he would be forwardly placed,” said
Dominguez, the leader rider in money-won in North America this year,
with over $19.3 million. “He is a horse with a lot of
natural speed and when we left the gate and I saw the (number) one (Bear
Tough Tiger) trying to make the lead, I was excited about that. I kind
of wanted to rate and stalk, but my horse was really pulling me and
taking me forward so I decided to just keep him together. I was very happy with how he relaxed and turning for home he gave me a pretty good kick.”
Next Question paid $34.10, $15.30 and $10.70, combining with Night Carnation ($7.80, $6.10) for a $254.40 (7-4) exactor. A 7-4-1 (Bear Tough Tiger, $8) triactor returned $2,143 while a $1 superfecta [7-4-1-8 (Big Band Sound)] came back $5,861.65.
Last year’s Nearctic winner, Regally Ready, went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs.