07/01/2009 11:00PM

Amoss excited about Backtalk


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A handful of 2-year-olds invariably impress as every Churchill Downs spring meet unfolds. The culmination of these flashes of brilliance is one big bang at the end of the meet in the form of the Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes.


The 108th Bashford Manor on Friday is representative of this cycle, as seven of the nine starters were maiden winners during the meet. Several of them delivered eye-catching performances, none more so than Backtalk, a Smarty Jones colt who will be one of the favorites when the $100,000 race anchors an 11-race twilight card that has a 2:45 p.m. Eastern first post.

"It's fair to say he's a very nice talent, and with his pedigree, it's exciting to look beyond this race Friday," said Tom Amoss, who trains Backtalk for the Gold Mark Farm of oil and gas executive Paul Bulmahn.

Backtalk, with Miguel Mena to ride, will break from post 5 in the six-furlong Bashford Manor. The colt earned an 83 Beyer Speed Figure in rallying from midpack to win by 2 3/4 lengths in his only start, a June 11 maiden race at Churchill.

Purchased for $250,000 last fall at Keeneland on the advice of Gold Mark manager Todd Quast, Backtalk was shipped north this spring "very well-educated and basically ready to go" after extensive training at Gold Mark near Ocala, Fla., said Amoss.

"They've got a state-of-the-art training center at Gold Mark with a synthetic track, and Todd and I agreed it would be an easier transition if he went to Arlington Park," where Polytrack is in use, said Amoss, who won the 2002 Bashford Manor with Lone Star Sky. "It didn't take long to see he could really run, so it was just a matter of where and when he'd make his first start, and it was a race at Churchill that went first. He's been here at Churchill ever since."

At least several opponents appear capable of giving Backtalk all he can handle, including Grand Slam Andre, Brassy Boy, Mission Impazible, Flatter Than Me, and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained duo of Westrock Gold and Soundman.

Of those, Flatter Than Me looks particularly dangerous on the front end, especially with two more bullet workouts in his holster.

Even Wilder and Vito Fillito complete the lineup.