Next Question upsets Nearctic in stakes debut

Three Diamonds Farm's Next Question was overlooked at 16-1 when making his stakes debut in Sunday's Grade 1, $511,576 Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine, but the Michael Trombetta charge proved more than up to the task, and thereby earned an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. After forcing the pace beneath Ramon Dominguez, the New York-bred edged clear down the lane and repelled English invader Night Carnation by a half-length.

When the gate opened, the rail-drawn Bear Tough Tiger blasted straight to the front, but Irish shipper Fire Lily was slow to move and spotted the field an advantage that she never overcame. Next Question flashed speed to engage Bear Tough Tiger, and the two argued through splits of :23 and :45 3/5 on the good turf.

Rounding the far turn, Next Question got the upper hand, but Bear Tough Tiger fought back at the top of the lane, and made the eventual winner work hard to subdue him. Next Question kept finding more and finally put the stubborn Bear Tough Tiger away after five furlongs in :57. Meanwhile, Night Carnation was closing gradually, but the filly couldn't quite get to Next Question, who completed six grassy furlongs in 1:09 1/5.

"I knew judging by the paper (Daily Racing Form) that he would be forwardly placed," Dominguez said. "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."

Night Carnation bested Bear Tough Tiger by a half-length for second. Big Band Sound, the 5-2 favorite, made belated progress to check in another half-length away in fourth. Next came Stormy Rush, As de Trebol, Super Chunky, Hammers Terror, Grand Adventure, Fire Lily and Artic Fern.

Next Question, who sparked payouts of $34.10, $15.30 and $10.70, boosted his bankroll to $403,013 from his 7-3-1-1 line. The son of Stormy Atlantic raced only twice as a sophomore, breaking his maiden over Woodbine's Polytrack in his only prior Canadian appearance. Out of action for 13 months, he just missed in a state-bred turf allowance at Belmont Park on June 17. Next Question was compromised by troubled trips when dropping his next two at Saratoga, but showed what he could really do with a wire-to-wire, five-length conquest in a September 12 entry-level affair back at Belmont.

Bred by Dr. Lance G. Bell in the Empire State, Next Question has toured the sales ring three times -- RNA'ing for $29,000 as a Keeneland November weanling, selling to his current connections for $30,000 as a New York-bred October yearling, and RNA'ing again for $170,000 as an OBS April two-year-old in training.

The four-year-old gelding is out of the Slew City Slew mare Seattle Stardust, who is herself a half-sister to 2004 Breeders' Cup Mile star Singletary.

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