Next (Not This Time) isn't just winning races. He is destroying the competition. A marathon-race specialist, he did it again last week at Parx, when he won the GIII Greenwood Cup S. by an astounding 25 lengths. It's been quite a ride for his trainer, Doug Cowans, who claimed the now 5-year-old last year for $62,500. To talk about Next and to discuss his future plans, Cowans joined this week's TDN Writers' Room podcast presented by Keeneland. He was this week's Green Group Guest of the Week.
Despite his horse's dominance, Cowans has no plan to run him in more prestigious races at shorter distances.
“The answer for me is no,” Cowans said when asked about a possible start in the GI Breeders' Cup Classic. “I put together a five-race plan for the horse at the beginning of the year after he won the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance last year. The reason that we chose to start running him in these marathon races is the fact that he loves the pace scenario, the tempo of the race. So for me to switch him or shorten him down to a mile-and-a-quarter where the pace scenario is going to be much faster, I would be taking away exactly what the horse likes. That's just not what I'm looking for right now.”
Next had some success before the claim. Trained by Wesley Ward, he won the 2021 War Chant S. and started in the 2020 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile, where he finished 14th. When Ward put him in a claiming race run on April 16, 2022 at Keeneland, Cowans was ready to strike. He claimed the horse for owner Michael Foster.
“Let's go back to that winter at Turfway Park,” Cowans said. “The horse made a couple of appearances there and that's where I'm stabled at in the winter. I watched the horse go in both races. He exited two races that were extremely tough. A lot of horses came out of those races and won some stakes. Then I saw him in at Keeneland for a tag. I talked to Mike Foster and said to him that we really needed to take a shot on that horse. I had no intentions of running the horse in marathon races at that point. That was not the plan until later on. Mike was all for the claim. So we took a shot and the rest is history.”
Cowans isn't necessarily a household name in racing and neither is his jockey, Luan Machado. He is a native of Brazil and came to the U.S. in 2018. Cowans believes his star is on the rise.
“He's a really underrated rider,” Cowans said. “I think you're going to see him take off here at Keeneland and Churchill now that he's had a little success. Even on Saturday, he flew back from Philly, made a later race at Churchill and won $140,000 allowance race. He and I are very close and he gives me a lot of feedback. He really gets along with this horse because he's got great hands and a good clock in his head.”
Elsewhere on the podcast, which is also sponsored by the Retired Racehorse Project,https://coolmore.com/https://lanesend.com/ the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders,https://www.nyrabets.com/ WinStar Farm, XBTV.com, 1/ST Racing, Lane's End and West Point Thoroughbreds, the team of Bill Finley, Zoe Cadman and Randy Moss discussed the story out of Mountaineer Park where jockey Jose Leon was fined just $100 after striking a horse in the face with his whip. Cadman, a retired jockey, called Leon's move “chicken (expletive).” The podcast began with a look at the big races last weekend at Parx, where Saudi Crown (Always Dreaming) won the GI Pennsylvania Derby. Since, trainer Brad Cox has been on the fence regarding his Breeders' Cup plans. The team said the colt has earned a chance on the Classic.