By Steve Sherack
After missing an intended start in the GII Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance S. at Santa Anita on Breeders' Cup Saturday due to a fever, the streaking marathon specialist Next (Not This Time) is currently being turned out for 45-60 days, according to trainer Doug Cowans.
“This fall, we were planning on going to California, but the Sunday before he was supposed to get on the plane, he got a little temperature,” Cowans said of Next missing the 1 5/8-miles event, a race he won at Keeneland in 2022.
“He was fine a couple of days later, but I tell 'ya, with flying and going out there I just said, 'Better not do it.' I scratched the whole idea. Everything had gone perfect all year and I wasn't gonna push the issue.”
Claimed by Michael A. Foster off owner/breeder Silverton Hill and trainer Wesley Ward for $62,500 at Keeneland last spring, the gelded 5-year-old has found his calling in the marathon division. He's won five out of his last six starts either on or just off the lead, including the GII Brooklyn S. going 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park June 10, the Birdstone S. going 1 3/4 miles at Saratoga July 27 and the GIII Greenwood Cup S. going 1 1/2 miles in the slop at Parx last time out Sept. 23. He's won his last two starts by a combined margin of a whopping 36 3/4 lengths.
“He'll go back into training Jan. 1,” Cowans said. “We're pointing towards either the ($200,000) Temperence Hill S. (at Oaklawn Mar. 29) or the Isaac Murphy (Marathon S. at Churchill Downs).”
He continued, “Everybody in the barn is excited. He brings a little bit of a different type of energy with his specialty of running in these marathon races. These kind of horses don't come along too often. He's a unique horse. Me and my assistant have both checked in on him at the farm once a week and he is doing great. We're excited to get him back in here in about three weeks.”
Next, one of 13 graded winners for Not This Time, was produced by the multiple stakes-placed Awesome Again mare Bahia Beach.