Better Now Much Improved in Tempted Romp

Lee Lewis' homebred Better Now saved ground behind a lively pace, then angled out to draw clear of Capote's Crown for a 3 ½-length victory in the $110,000 Tempted (gr. III) for 2-year-old fillies at a mile Sunday at Belmont Park.

The victory should set the Thunder Gulch filly in good shape for Aqueduct's $200,000 Demoiselle (gr. II) at nine furlongs on Nov. 26.

"We've always thought more distance would help her out," said winning trainer Mark Hennig. "Just when she was starting to make her move, she got stopped on the turn. It was amazing that she was able to pick herself up so quickly and finish the way she did."

Better Now was a distant fourth as a longshot in the Frizette (gr. I) on a sloppy track in her last start Oct. 8.

In winning for the second time in five starts, the Kentucky-bred Better Now and jockey Javier Castellano lagged at the back of the seven-horse field for the opening half-mile, allowing favored Wonder Lady Anne L to battle with Capote's Crown through a pace of :22 4/5 and :46. With those two occupied by one another, Better Now came four wide on the turn to win ridden out in 1:38 1/5.

"There was a lot of speed in the race," Castellano said. "They battled with each other through those fast fractions. We jut sat behind them. We started to make our move at the three-eighths pole. She ducked a little bit when I tapped her, but she was much the best here."

Better Now, who doubled her earnings to $130,900, returned $13.40, $5.20 and $2.90 to win as the favorite third.

Capote's Crown ($4.80, $3.80), ridden by Eibar Coa in her second start, set the quick pace in front of Wonder Lady Anne L ($2.60) and finished 2 1/2 lengths ahead of the 19-10 favorite.

Jinni, Bella Fortuna, Swap Fliparoo and Sparkling Pink trailed. Dance Daily was a vet scratch after breaking through the gate before the start.

(Chart, Equibase)