Better Talk Now Out of Sword Dancer

An ankle injury has forced the 2004 champion out of the Sword Dancer (gr.IT).

So much for the showdown between a pair of highly-regarded turf stars.

Better Talk Now trainer Graham Motion announced Aug. 10 that the 8-year-old gelding was being scratched from the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT) at Saratoga this weekend due to a left front ankle injury that was suffered in a race last month. The minor injury, which occurred in the United Nations Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont June 9, seemed to be under control until Friday, when it began to fill with fluid.

Motion said the veteran turf router, who has won 14 of 40 career races, including the 2004 Sword Dancer, would walk for two weeks and if the injury healed, could be pointed toward the $500,000 Man o’ War Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Sept. 8.

"It looks quite angry this morning, he's very tender on it," said Motion. "This is a temporary thing, but the timing is terrible.  I don’t want the same scenario a month from now, so we’re going to give him the time and treat it.  I want him to heal so he’s fine the rest of the year.  I’m disappointed for the owners and the horse, but more disappointed for the fans of Saratoga.  It was such a big day and it would have been a great race."

The injury means that Better Talk Now will be unable to face rival English Channel Aug. 11, in what would have been the seventh meeting between two of the best turf routers in the country. English Channel, trained by Todd Pletcher, had finished ahead of Better Talk Now in four of their six races. The son of Smart Strike is now likely to be the overwhelming favorite in the Sword Dancer.