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Next in a Class of His Own in Birdstone Romp

There was no doubt who the king of the staying division was once Next  devastated his rivals for the second straight time this year in the July 27 $150,000 Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

“This guy’s the claim of the century,” winning owner Michael Foster chirped after the gelding’s 11 1/2-length romp.

The 5-year-old son of Not This Time  , a stakes winner on the grass as a 3-year-old for trainer Wesley Ward, was tagged out of a $62,500 allowance optional claiming race at Keeneland in April 2022. It didn’t take long for new conditioner Doug Cowans to figure out what the gelding needed to climb to the next level, and in his third start for his new connections, the gray soared to a double-digit track record score in the 1 1/2-mile Cape Henlopen Stakes at Delaware Park.

Victories in the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes (G2) and this year’s Brooklyn Stakes (G2) followed before Next turned in another shining performance in Thursday’s 1 3/4-mile Birdstone. Stalking in second for much of the journey behind the pacesetting Sea Foam , Next pressed that rival past the mile marker before bounding away around the turn. Seven lengths in front at the head of the stretch, Next ($3.20) continued to pour it on down the lane under Luan Machado.

Due to an issue with the timer, the race needed to be clocked by hand. The official time wasn’t yet posted at the time of publication.

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Time for Trouble  closed to be a distant second over Dash Attack  in third.

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