GEOVANNI FRANCO, LATE RIDER CHANGE FROM JOEL ROSARIO, WHO WAS OFF HIS MOUNTS, NEXT SHARES, WINNER: “My horse was so good today. He broke out of there and we kind of got left a little bit but Richard told me not to hurry, so I didn’t. He told me that if we had to go wide to go ahead and go wide, because it wouldn’t matter. He said the horse will run. Down the lane the other horses were very game but I think Next Shares heard everyone screaming and pulling for him and he got it done.
“I thought I won it because I thought my horse had his nose down at the wire, but I knew it was close. This is the biggest pick-up mount I’ve ever had, for sure.”
RICHARD BALTAS, NEXT SHARES, WINNER: “This is a very, very, very good horse. I said earlier that he likes a little more cut in the ground, but he obviously handled this well. Geo rode a great race…He was a little far back, but this guy doesn’t panic.”
PHIL D’AMATO, CLEOPATRA’S STRIKE, SECOND: “I’ve had two of these (photo finishes) in the last week. We know he fits with Grade I horses…We’ve got a lot to work with here.”
MICAHAEL IAVARONE, PART-OWNER, NEXT SHARES, WINNER: “Yeah, he’s going to the Pegasus. It’s all about the Pegasus Turf Cup Invitational (Grade I, $7,000,000 going 1 3/16 miles on Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park) right now. It’s what we wanted and what we were hoping for. We tried to stretch him out with that in mind and it worked out amazingly well. I told Geovanni to make sure to save a little for the Pegasus.
“When I first saw the race I thought we won. Then, when I watched the replay seven times I thought we got beat. Either way I thought we ran well enough to show we could get the distance so I was happy with it either way but that nose was huge.”
NOTES: The winning owners are Michael Iavarone, Jules Iavarone, Jerry McClanahan, Christopher T. Dunn, William Marasa, Ritchie Robershaw, and Mark Taylor.