Better Talk Now will have some help in Saturday's $750,000 United Nations Handicap (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park with the prospect of a soft turf course and stablemate Shake the Bank on hand to insure an honest pace.
Although many people in Monmouth County were busy bailing out basements Thursday morning, trainer Graham Motion was smiling -- it was raining buckets at Monmouth Park.
"I was happy to hear it was raining there," Motion said from the dry confines of his Maryland training base. "It helps my horse to have some give in the ground."
Better Talk Now, the 3-1 U.N. favorite, took the big step to the top level last October, winning the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT). This year, he won the Fort Marcy Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct first time out, but then was thwarted in the Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico.
Shake the Bank, who likes to run on the front end, will have one purpose in the 1 3/8-mile U.N. for 3-year-olds and up--to prevent theft.
"It's been frustrating," Motion said. "Better Talk Now looks like a very inconsistent horse. But he's not. He needs a good pace to run his best, and he doesn't always get it. That's why Shake the Bank is in Saturday. We'll make our own pace."
Motion also got some good news in that Ramon Dominguez will be able to ride Better Talk Now. The jockey was involved in a spill at Delaware Park on Tuesday, but escaped with no serious injuries.
Better Talk Now and 50-1 Shake the Bank will run uncoupled.
Back for another try in the UN is last year's winner Request for Parole, the 5-1 fourth choice trained by Stanley Hough. The millionaire runner hasn't won since then. In his sole start this year, Request for Parole ran fourth in an optional claimer/allowance at Belmont Park June 10.
Exterior and License To Run last raced in California and will be dropping down in distance from 1 1/2 miles. Exterior, the 4-1 second choice, ran third in the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT) in May at Hollywood Park last time out. License To Run, 9-2 in the U.N., was more successful, taking the San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT) by five lengths at Santa Anita, but that race was in February. Both runners are trained by Bobby Frankel and will run uncoupled.
Close behind License To Run in the odds is Silverfoot (at 6-1), who has won both his starts this year. He comes into the race off a score in the Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) at the U.N. distance.
1--Better Talk Now, Ramon Dominguez, 3-1
2--Gunning For, J.C. Ferrer, 12-1
3--Cool Conductor, Cornelio Velasquez, 8-1
4--Request for Parole, Joe Bravo, 5-1
5--License To Run, Pat Valenzuela, 9-2
6--Silverfoot, Robby Albarado, 6-1
7--Exterior, Jose Santos, 4-1
8--Shake the Bank, Tommy Turner, 50-1
9--Navesink River, C.P. DeCarlo, 8-1
10--Spruce Run, C.C. Lopez, 20-1