Better Talk Now had the final say when he inched out a head victory with a game effort between horses in the $250,000 CompUSA/Toshbia Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico Race Course Saturday.
Dreadnaught, at 12-1 was second, with 1-2 favorite Artie Schiller a neck back in third. Better Talk Now completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:48.48.
The winner returned $9.40, $5, and $2.60. Dreadnaught paid $9 and $3.60, with Artie Schiller returning $2.10.
After a slight stumble at the start, Better Talk Now laid way off the early pace set by stablemate Shake the Bank who was allowed a loney lead over the seven-horse field through fractions of :25, :48.38, and 1:12.03. Artie Schiller, stalking in second while off the rail, overtook Shake the Bank and took command in mid-stretch after completing the mile in 1:37.
The 7-year-old Better Talk Now, under jockey Ramon Dominguez, began making his move as the field pounded down the straight. Things got interesting when Better Talk Now, Dreadnaught (Alex Solis aboard), and Artie Schiller (Garrett Gomez) came to the wire in a tight three-horse pack with Better Talk Now splitting his rivals to get the head bob.
"He split horses very gamely," Dominguez said. "There wasn't a whole lot of room. He was pretty game getting in there. He certainly ran a huge race, especially off the layoff."
"I'm very disappointed that he didn't win," said Solis of Dreadnaught. "He broke great, sitting in the position I wanted and had a good clean trip. He finished up strong."
The Dixie was the first start of the season for the H. Graham Motion-trained Better Talk Now, who finished 12th in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) in his last start Nov. 27 after finishing a disappointing seventh when defending his title in the 2005 John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT).
"(Better Talk Now) is so honest," Motion said. "I mean, what more can I say about him. It amazes me he went off at 7-2. This isn't his distance, don't forget. I felt about as confident today as I've felt for a while."
The meeting of Better Talk Now and Artie Schiller, winner of the 2005 NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), was the second time in six months two Breeders' Cup winners have squared off against one another. Better Talk Now met Ouija Board, winner of the 2004 Alberto VO5 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT), in the Japan Cup. Ouija Board finished fifth.
"I was in the position where I wanted to be," said Gomez of his ride on Artie Schiller. "We had an excellent trip. On the far turn, I asked him to pick it up. He ran real hard down the lane, but couldn't hold on."
Better Talk Now improved his career record to 12 wins from 32 starts with earnings of $2,772,077.
Motion conditions Better Talk Now (Talkin Man- Bendita, by Baldski) for Bushwood Racing Partners.
Better Talk Now was bred in Kentucky by Wimborne Farm.
Sabre d'Argent, Rebel Rebel, Shake the Bank and Dr Detroit completed the order.