Saturday's $500,000 Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) will feature last year's John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Better Talk Now and Beverly D (gr. IT) winner Angara, whom trainer Patrick Biancone will send out against the boys in the 1 3/8-mile test.
Better Talk Now, owned by Bushwood Stables and trained by Graham Motion, will have stablemate Shake the Bank, under Tommy Turner, as a pacesetter in the field of 11, as he did in his victory in the United Nations Handicap (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park.
"I realize he may help others in the race as well, but I'm only thinking about my horse, and he will benefit from a pacesetter," Motion said. "I think he really did a super job last time," Motion said of Turner's ride on Shake the Bank in which he opened up a 15-length lead early before getting beat 16 lengths by his stablemate. "We had an agenda that we wanted to go with and Tommy performed it to perfection, and that would be the plan this weekend."
In his last start, Better Talk Now closed well to finish fourth in the Arlington Million (gr. IT). His other victory this year came in the 1 1/16-mile Fort Marcy Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct. Regular rider Ramon Dominguez will be aboard, and will break from post 5.
"I think the Arlington Million was a very honest effort," Motion said. "I don't think anybody was going to beat Powerscourt that day. We probably took the worse of the trip. To come around the whole field, I thought it was a very strong performance."
Motion is also looking forward to stretching out Better Talk Now, who will run a furlong farther in the Man o' War than he did at Arlington.
"I think the extra eighth of a mile will be a big help," Motion said. "More distance definitely seems to suit him."
Bobby Frankel is hoping to find a Breeders' Cup Turf horse in the Man o' War, as he sends out King's Drama and Vangelis, the one-three finishers in the Sword Dancer Handicap (gr. IT). King's Drama, who won the Sword Dancer on the front end with Jorge Chavez up, will break from the outside post, while Vangelis drew post 7.
Sword Dancer runner-up, Relaxed Gesture, also will try again in the Man o' War, and will have to break sharply from the 10-post. Corey Nakatani is the new rider of Relaxed Gesture, although trainer Christophe Clement said he does not blame Jose Santos for his horse's defeat in the Sword Dancer.
"I don't know that he would have been able to finish as well if Santos tried to keep him up there the whole way with King's Drama," Clement said. "The horse has been running very well, we've just been unlucky to be second the last three times."
In the Beverly D, Angara defeated Frankel's two top fillies Megahertz and Melhor Ainda. Now, trainer Patrick Biancone feels she's ready to face the colts.
"She likes to run," said Biancone, who would like to see a course with some give in it Saturday. "She came out of the Beverly D. in really good shape, so we're going to take a shot at the males again. I don't want to run her on too firm a course anymore. She runs much better on a softer course, as was the case in the Beverly D."$500,000 Man o' War (gr. IT, Race 9, 5:12 p.m.), 3 & up, 1 3/8 miles (turf)
PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT.
1 Swordsman D. Wayne Lukas Pablo Fragoso 121
2 Angara Patrick Biancone Gary Stevens 123
3 Victory Circle Phil Serpe Rafael Bejarano 126
4a Shake the Bank H. Graham Motion Tommy Turner 126
5a Better Talk Now H. Graham Motion Ramon Dominguez 126
6 Stage Call Jonathan Sheppard Mike Smith 126
7 Vangelis Bobby Frankel Edgar Prado 126
8 Rousing Victory Phil Serpe Javier Castellano 126
9 Dreadnaught Tommy Voss Jean-Luc Samyn 126
10 Relaxed Gesture Christophe Clement Corey Nakatani 126
11 King's Drama Bobby Frankel John Velazquez 126