The ageless Better Talk Now, winner of the 2004 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) and a graded-stakes winner each of the last five years, heads the field for the $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT), part of Louisiana Derby Preview Day Feb. 9 at Fair Grounds.
The Kentucky-bred gelding, which has not raced at Fair Grounds since 2002, will make his 9-year-old debut as the 3-1 morning line favorite in the Fair Grounds Handicap, one of four grade III stakes on the card.
Although Better Talk Now’s best known victory came on Breeders’ Cup day four years ago, he also captured Monmouth’s grade I United Nations Handicap in 2005, a pair of grade II stakes in 2006, and Belmont’s grade I Manhattan Handicap last year. He ended 2007 with a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park.
Ramon Dominguez is back aboard the son of Talkin Man out of the Baldski mare Bendita for trainer Graham Motion. Better Talk Now is owned by Bushwood Stables.
Irish-bred Daytona, a winner of the grade I Hollywood Derby last Nov. 25 and the Dec. 30 San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT) Dec. 30, is the 7-2 early second choice. The son of Indian Ridge out of the Blushing John mare Kyka will have the services of jockey Mike Smith. Dan Hendricks trains for Jeff Davenport, Tom Lenner, Jess Ravich, and Thomas Murray.
The Steve Asmussen-trained Inca King is another starter who could turn in a big performance. The son of Sir Cat out of the Prized mare Inca Prized is riding a three-race win streak for owner Heiligbrodt Stables. Inca King ended 2007 with a Woodchopper Handicap win, over the Fair Grounds turf, and scored at both Keeneland and Churchill Downs in the Bryan Stakes Stakes and the Commonwealth Turf Stakes, respectively.
Shaun Bridgmohan gets the call aboard Inca King.
While the 3-year-olds will be the main focus in the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes and the $200,000 Silverbulletday Stakes, both grade III, older horses will run in the other four stakes, including the Fair Grounds Handicap and the $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III).
Completing the stakes lineup are two $100,000 sprint stakes – the Pan Zareta for fillies and mares at six furlongs and the Colonel Power at about 5 1/2 furlongs on grass.
Fair Grounds’ Pick 6 wager, normally offered on the last six races of the card, will be adjusted to become an All-Stakes Pick 6 – ending with the Risen Star as the ninth race on an 11-race program.
The field for the 1 1/8-mile Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT):
1-- French Beret (James Graham, 116)
2-- Silverfoot (Julien Leparoux, 116)
3-- Warn (Jesse Campbell, 110)
4-- Sterwins (Patrick Husbands, 115)
5-- Better Talk Now (Ramon Dominguez, 121)
6-- Baby First (Michael Baze, 114)
7-- Jazz Quest (John Velazquez, 115)
8-- Daytona (Mike Smith, 119)
9-- Save Big Money (Robby Albarado, 114)
10-- Inca King (Shaun Bridgmohan, 117)