Trainer Graham Motion, with Breeders' Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now, is aiming for an Eclipse Award.

Trainer Graham Motion, with Breeders' Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now, is aiming for an Eclipse Award.

Skip Dickstein

Motion 'Talks' Eclipse in Hollywood Turf Cup

(from Hollywood Park report)
The connections for Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) upsetter Better Talk Now are gambling that a victory in Hollywood Park's $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT) Saturday will be enough to secure an Eclipse Award as the year's North American male turf champion.

The 5-year-old Maryland-based gelding will seek his third grade I win of 2004. Better Talk Now ships west for the 1 1/2-mile Turf Cup riding the crest of his dramatic score at odds of 27-1 in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30. He defeated odds-on favorite Kitten's Joy, the favorite for the turf award, by 1 3/4 lengths.

H. Graham Motion, who trains Better Talk Now for Bushwood Racing Partners, describes the Hollywood Park venture as Eclipse driven. "The general sense of opinion seemed to be that Kitten's Joy deserved it even though we won the Breeders' Cup against him," noted Motion. "We thought winning one more grade I might sway the voters."

Better Talk Now, who captured the Sword Dancer Stakes (gr. IT) at Saratoga in August, will face eight opponents Saturday. Bobby Frankel trains a pair of entrants – Megahertz, a 5-year-old mare that has banked over $1.4 million, and Brazilian-import License To Run, a group I winner in his native country. Moscow Burning, fourth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) after leading much of the way, also was entered.

Jockey Ramon Dominguez, who last weekend made an auspicious Hollywood Park debut by winning a pair of graded stakes during the Turf Festival, will return to ride Better Talk Now, who provided the Maryland-based rider his first Breeders' Cup win.

A Kentucky-bred son of Talkin Man, Better Talk Now has earned $1,744,437 from a career record of 8-5-2 in 24 starts. He earned $1,040,000 when peaking in the Breeders' Cup.

"He's really done terrific since the Breeders' Cup," Motion said this week.

Seven champions have competed in past runnings of the Turf Cup, including two-time Horse of the Year John Henry, who took the 1983 running. Megahertz and Moscow Burning will be bidding to become the first female winner. Both have competed against males previously.

Megahertz, who has earned $1,431,594 from a 10-4-5 mark in 27 starts, faced males four times as a 2-year-old in France without winning. Moscow Burning, with an overall record of 8-5-2 from 19 starts for earnings of $792,535, finished third in this year's Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT), her only start in mixed company.

Habaneros, trained by T.R. "Ray" Bell II, will be aiming for an upset of his own in the Turf Cup.

A 5-year-old gelding, Habaneros has won three of his last four starts at 26-to-1, 24-to-1 and 14-to-1 odds. The last was in the Carleton F. Burke Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Santa Anita turf on Oct. 23 in his first stakes start.

"He hasn't proved he's a good horse yet, but he keeps improving," said Bell, who is based at Santa Anita.

Habaneros, a Kentucky-bred son of Tabasco Cat leased by John Bell, returned this summer in sharp form following a 15-month layoff.

"The last Grade I that I won was with Twice The Vice in the (1994) Del Mar Oaks," said Bell. "It would be nice to win another."

$250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT), 3 & up, 1 1/2 miles (turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight
1. Balestrini, Mike Smith, 126
2. Puerto Banus, Kent Desormeaux, 126
3. Better Talk Now, Ramon Dominguez, 126
4. License To Run, Garrett Gomez, 126
5. Moscow Burning, Jose Valdivia Jr., 123
6. Habaneros, David Flores, 126
7. Pellegrino, Gary Stevens, 126
8. Megahertz, Rene Douglas, 123
9. Hatif, Tyler Baze, 126