(from Monmouth Park report)
The exploits of Meteor Storm and Hard Buck are well documented heading into Saturday's $750,000 United Nations (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park, and they will likely carry the bulk of betting support in the 1 3/8-mile turf event. But the field of 12 includes several major stakes winners that could easily be factors given a good trip.One of those is Bushwood Racing Partners' Better Talk Now, a 5-year-old by Talkin Man who was last seen running second at Monmouth behind Megantic in the Battlefield Stakes at nine furlongs on the grass. Trainer Graham Motion, who has a division of his stable at Monmouth for the first time this year, believes his horse is returning to the good form that brought him to victory in the Knickerbocker Handicap (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct last fall."In a race like this, the winner is the one who gets the best trip," Motion said. "And we'll need a good trip because this is a strong field."My horse ran solid at the end of last year," the trainer said, "and if he can get back to that form, he'll be fine. His last race showed me that he's getting back to his best now, and he'll benefit from a race over the track."In the Battlefield, Better Talk Now swung wide in the stretch and actually poked a head in front at the furlong pole, but was run down by the strong closing kick of Megantic, who drew off to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Better Talk Now was coming off lackluster efforts in the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf Handicap at Sam Houston and the Dixie (gr. IIT) at Pimlico.Eibar Coa, one of Monmouth's leading jockeys, takes the mount for the first time on Better Talk Now.Meteor Storm, who's working on a three-race win streak that includes the Manhattan (gr. IT) last out on June 5, was out for a mile and a half gallop around the main track Thursday morning with exercise rider Jesus Gomes aboard. The horse shipped in with Hard Buck on Tuesday evening."He went really nice," said Aimee Dollase, who accompanied the horse from California. Her father, trainer Wally Dollase, is due in Thursday night."He'll gallop again tomorrow and my father will be here for that." Jose Valdivia Jr., who's been aboard the last four races, has the mount.Hard Buck, a well-traveled Brazilian-bred, looks none the worse for wear even though he's logged thousands of frequent-flyer miles in the last two seasons with two trips to Dubai. Hanne Jorgensen, assistant to trainer Ken McPeek, is in charge of preparations at Monmouth. "He jogged two miles this morning," Jorgensen said. "He's doing just great here."Brice Blanc, who won twice aboard Hard Buck last season, has the call for the United Nations. $750,000 United Nations (gr. IT), 3 & up, 1 3/8 mile on turf
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. In Hand (KY), 118, Stewart Elliott
2. Request for Parole (KY), 118, Edgar S. Prado
3. Balto Star (KY), 118, Jose A. Velez, Jr.
4. Nothing to Lose (KY), 118, Richard Migliore
5. Bowman Mill (KY), 118, Joe Bravo
6. Hard Buck (BRZ), 122, Brice Blanc
7. Mr O'Brien (IRE), 120, Ramon A. Dominguez
8. Megantic (KY), 118, Julian Pimentel
9. Better Talk Now (KY), 118, Eibar Coa
10. Catechol (NJ), 118, Michael C. Baze
11. Final Prophecy (FL), 118, Edwin L. King, Jr.
12. Meteor Storm (GB), 122, Jose Valdivia, Jr.