MACHOWSKY COMFY WITH NEXTDOORNEIGHBOR IN SHAM STAKES

Two months in front of the Kentucky Derby, and Mike Machowsky is sitting pretty. The 44-year-old trainer has two promising Triple Crown hopefuls in the unbeaten Caracortado and promising maiden winner Nextdoorneighbor, who runs in Saturday’s Grade III, $150,000 Sham Stakes, a major steppingstone to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 3.

Caracortado, who captured the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 6 for his fifth victory, goes next in the Grade II, $150,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 13 against Kentucky Derby Future Book favorite Lookin At Lucky.

“He trains like a really good horse,” Cincinnati native Machowsky said of Nextdoorneighbor, a bay son of Lido Palace owned and bred by John and Jerry Amerman. The Amermans raced Lido Palace, as well as Netxdoorneighbor’s dam, Fencelineneighbor. Both were major stakes winners.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Machowsky said. “Nextdoorneighbor is working good and acts like he’s got everything you’d want in a horse at this time of year.”

Discretion being the better part of valor, Machowsky was reluctant to compare Nextdoorneighbor and Caracortado. “But a few months back I breezed them together a couple of times,” he said. “They went very well together, so I’m pretty excited to have both of them.”