Saturday's $500,000 Man o'War Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park drew a field of eight runners who may have to contend with soft going after steady rain in New York earlier this week.
Sword Dancer (gr.IT) victor Better Talk Now is likely to go off the bettors' choice, since he is proven over both firm and wet turf. "I don't think (soft conditions) will be a problem," said trainer Graham Motion. "In fact, it probably helps us a bit because some of the others might not handle it as well as he does.
"It took him some time to come around this year. He used to be pretty headstrong, but he's gotten more mature and is pretty consistent now. He's got to string some races together to prove how good he is."
Owned by Brushwood Stables, Better Talk Now finished second two races back in the Bowling Green behind Kicken Kris, who went on to take the Arlington Million (gr. IT) via disqualification.
Just behind Kicken Kris in the Million was Michael Tabor's Magistretti, who ended up second. Making his first start for trainer Patrick Biancone in the Man o'War, Magistretti was closing with vigor in the Million. Gary Tanaka's Epalo was moved up to third in the Million after racing near the pace. Tanaka will have two horses in the Man o'War, with King's Drama, an allowance winner Sept. 1 at Saratoga, wheeling back quickly from the Bobby Frankel barn. They will race coupled.
Frankel will also be represented by 3-year-old Greek Sun, who comes in off his first defeat when he ran second to Kitten's Joy in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington. Greek Sun will enjoy a five-pound weight advantage against his elders.
Sword Dancer runner-up Request for Parole will take another crack at Better Talk Now, as will front-running Balto Star, who set the pace in the Sword Dancer before finishing third. Veteran Ballingarry rounds out the line-up.
The field for Saturday's Man o'War, in post position order with jockeys (all carry 126 pounds except Greek Sun, 121):
1) Better Talk Now (Ramon Dominguez)
2) Ballingarry (Rene Douglas)
3) Magistretti (Edgar Prado)
4) Request for Parole (Javier Castellano)
5) Greek Sun (Cornelio Velasquez)
6) Epalo (Andrasch Starke)
7) King's Drama (Jorge Chavez)
8) Balto Star (John Velazquez)