10/15/2012 2:18PM

Woodbine: Next Question pointed for Breeders’ Cup after Nearctic victory

Michael Burns
Next Question, with Ramon Dominguez riding, wins the Nearctic, earning a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Next Question, with his game half-length victory in the $501,200 Nearctic Stakes, was the only winner of the three Breeders’ Cup Challenge races at Woodbine on Sunday with designs on exercising that option.

The Grade 1 Nearctic, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward, was a Win and You’re In race for the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint over 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

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

“If he’s well, and he seems to have traveled well, we’ll be going,” said Michael Trombetta, who trains Next Question, a 4-year-old gelding, for Three Diamonds Farm.

Next Question was making just his seventh career start and his stakes debut in the Nearctic.

After finishing third in his first lifetime start at Aqueduct in April of 2011, Next Question shipped to Woodbine and was a maiden winner over 5 1/2 furlongs on Polytrack.

“We sent him up there to run, and Michael McDonald took care of him for a couple of weeks while he broke his maiden,” said Trombetta.

Next Question resurfaced at Belmont this spring, missing by a head as the runner-up in a first-level allowance race at six furlongs on the turf and then was on the fringes in two tries in the same classification on Saratoga’s turf course.

“We always really believed in this horse,” said Trombetta. “He had a lot of rotten luck at Saratoga, with bad trips.”

Back at Belmont, Next Question knocked out his first condition in a seven-furlong turf race, earning what was then a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 88.

“He finally got a decent trip,” said Trombetta.

“Then I was going to run him back in a New York race, which didn’t go. That turned out to be a blessing because the owner wanted to take a shot at the Neartic.”

Next Question had not been among the original nominees to the Nearctic but was supplemented a cost of $10,000.

His wire-to-wire victory under Ramon Dominguez yielded a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 96, which stacks up well with others bound for the Turf Sprint.

Delegation takes big step up

Sunday’s Grade 3, $150,300 Durham Cup, a 1 1/8-mile Polytrack race for 3-year-olds and upward, was not part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.

But Delegation’s dominant front-running score under rider Patrick Husbands has prompted trainer Mark Casse to declare his 3-year-old gelding a candidate for the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 3.

“He’s potentially a superstar,” said Casse, who trains Delegation for owner Gary Barber. “I know he got away with some slow fractions, but he came his last three furlongs in less than 36, and Patrick said we hadn’t got to the bottom of him yet.”

Delegation, the only 3-year-old in the Durham Cup’s field of six, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 104, which equals both the third-best overall number of the current Woodbine meeting and the two-turn Polytrack figure awarded to Hunter’s Bay for his victory here in the May 26 Eclipse.

“He’ll leave for Churchill Downs on Thursday,” said Casse. “I don’t know how he’ll like that dirt. I feel more confident about running him on the dirt at Santa Anita.’

Casse noted that other Southern Califonia meets are run on synthetic surfaces “and the form seems to hold up.”

Casse already has two guaranteed Breeders’ Cup starters with Spring in the Air (Juvenile Fillies) and Spring Venture (Juvenile Fillies Turf) having earned berths through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge program.

Pool Play (Classic or Marathon) and Dynamic Sky (Juvenile) also are looking to make the trip west for Casse.