Not This Time, the leading Fourth-Crop sire of 2023, added to his impressive list of stakes winners on June 10 when Next proved best in the historic Brooklyn S. (G2) at Belmont Park and Ain’t Life Grand powered to victory in the Jim & Sandra Rasmussen S. at Prairie Meadows.
Next, a 5-year-old gray from the William Cowans barn, has taken to the marathon distances since stretching out last summer. The 1 ½-mile Brooklyn fit his front-running style perfectly. He broke on top from his inside post and controlled the pace the entire way. Warrant pressed him for the first seven furlong before fading, and Next opened up a five-length lead in midstretch to easily hold off the late charge of Calibrate by 2 ½-lengths on the wire.
“This horse likes to go to the lead and get into a rhythm,” Cowans said. “Everything today went just as we planned. Go to the lead, slow it down as slow as we could and try to keep a length in front the whole way. It worked out just the way we wanted.”
Next was claimed by Cowans for owner Michael Foster in April of 2022 at Keeneland and has since posted a record of 6-4-0-1 for his current connections, with and 18-length stakes win in the Cape Henlopen S. and a 6 ½-length score in the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance S. (G2) in November at Keeneland. His lifetime earnings are now $719,172.
Cowans said Next will now target a start in the 1 3/4-mile $150,000 Birdstone S. on July 27 at Saratoga.
Ain’t Life Grand, who is now a seven-time stakes winner of $626,724, was the class of the Rasmussen field. He was allowed to settle and raced near the back of the pack until called on with three furlongs to run. The 4-year-old colt easily went past the field and was all alone in the stretch, drawing off to win by 6 ½-lengths.
Ain’t Life Grand is owned by his breeder RPM Thoroughbreds.