10/17/2012 4:33PM

Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint: Trombetta looking forward to running Next Question

Michael Burns
Next Question earned a fees-paid berth into the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint by winning last Sunday's Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine.

On Sunday, Next Question captured the Nearctic Stakes, the last of the 73 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races offered in 2012. That, of course, means he’s guaranteed a spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, and his trainer, Michael Trombetta, is looking forward to getting him there.

“If he’s well we’re certainly going to take a shot,” said Trombetta, a winner of 1,105 races in his career, which dates back to 1986.

The Nearctic, a Grade 1 race run at six furlongs over Woodbine’s turf course, featured a deep field of 11, including several runners with more experience than Next Question, not to mention better speed figures. But Next Question, a New York-bred, benefited from a forward trip, setting a relatively slow pace while under pressure, and he was able to last thanks to masterful handling from jockey Ramon Dominguez.

“We thought he’d run well,” said Trombetta. “We didn’t think he’d be disgraced. But it turned out that he exceeded our expections.”

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: DRF top 10 lists, video replays, latest news]

The 96 Beyer earned by Next Question in the Nearctic was easily the best figure of his career, and it marked the third consecutive race where he has posted an improved speed figure. He was coming off an easy score against statebreds at Belmont in his previous race, but that seemed like an aberration – he was loose on the lead though moderate fractions – and in two starts against New York breds at Saratoga he was off the board. Those races, however, were hardly an indication of his ability.

“He hadn’t had a lot of luck in his two races at Saratoga,” said Trombetta. “Paper can’t print how bad those trips were for him. He had no chance whatsover. Then he won that open allowance race by a bunch, then went on to do what he did in this last one. He’s made some pretty good jumps in his last couple of starts.”

Those last two races were plenty good enough to make Next Question a serious threat for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The main concern for Next Question, a son of Stormy Atlantic, is that he has never tried 6 1/2 furlongs over the downhill course at Santa Anita, but his trainer isn’t all that worried.

“The downhill course is something new for him, but we’ve now won at three-quarters and at seven-eighths,” said Trombetta. “So I can certainly live with 6 1/2 furlongs for him. It’s an unknown but we’re willing to try it.”

◗ Perfect Officer, who posted Beyers in the 90s in all four of his starts this year, would have been a contender in the Turf Sprint this year, but trainer Tony Dutrow confirmed this week that the 6-year-old gelding will not be participating.

“He won’t run again this year,” said Dutrow. “He had a small problem that will require some time, and unfortunately he will miss the Breeders’ Cup. I’ll take him down to Florida, and I expect him to have a good season next year. I think he’ll probably be back in training by the end of November.”