10/11/2005 11:00PM

BC Turf: Better Talk Now likely to have the help of his rabbit, Shake the Bank


Better Talk Now is likely to have a rabbit working on his behalf when he attempts to defend his title in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 29.

Earlier this year, Better Talk Now won the United Nations Stakes and the Man o' War Handicap, with stablemate Shake the Bank ensuring a quick pace in both races. Wednesday, trainer Graham Motion said "there is a good shot" Shake the Bank will start in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

"We're still discussing it," he said. "The bottom line is he is 2 for 2 with a rabbit."

On his own merits, Shake the Bank would not be considered for the Breeders' Cup Turf. Bushwood Stable, which owns Better Talk Now, bought Shake the Bank earlier this year. Shake the Bank has 3 wins in 26 starts, the most recent of which came in an allowance race at a mile on turf at Churchill Downs in June 2004.

"We bought him specifically for this job," Motion said. "We want to consider it before we put the money up."

Pre-entries for the Breeders' Cup are due on Monday and will be announced on Wednesday.

A field of 12 to 14 is likely for the Turf, run at 1 1/2 miles. Aside from Better Talk Now and Shake the Bank, the candidates are Ace, Azamour, Bago, English Channel, Fourty Niners Son, Leprechaun Kid, Motivator, Powerscourt, Shakespeare, Shamdala, Shirocco, and Silverfoot.

Azamour, the winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in England in July, is the 3-1 future-book favorite for the BC Turf with the English bookmaking firm William Hill. Other top candidates are Powerscourt, who won the Arlington Million in August, and Shakespeare, who won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Oct. 1.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien told the English press on Tuesday that he was confident that Powerscourt would be ready for the BC Turf after missing training time following the Arlington Million.

Three runners from the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris on Oct. 2 are BC Turf candidates - third- through fifth-place finishers Bago, Shirocco, and Motivator. Bago won the 2004 Arc, while Motivator won the English Derby in June.

Shamdala would be the only female in the BC Turf field. Like Azamour, she is owned by the Aga Khan. Shamdala is also under consideration for the Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct. 23.

Shirocco, winner of the Group 1 German Derby in 2004, is trained by Andre Fabre, who announced over the weekend that Arc winner Hurricane Run would not start in the BC Turf because of a cough.

A decision on whether Fourty Niners Son will start in the BC Turf hinges on a turf workout on Sunday, trainer Neil Drysdale said. The winner of the Clement Hirsch Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 2, Fourty Niners Son could start in the Canadian International.

Turf Contenders
3-year-olds & up, 1 1/2 miles (turf). Purse: $2 million.

1ShakespeareW. Mott6-1
His narrow win in Turf Classic was better than it may appear on paper
2PowerscourtA. O'Brien4-1
Romped in Arl. Million; could have won this last year with a good ride
3AzamourJ. Oxx9-2
Skipped the Arc; comes into this off a disappointing fifth in Ireland
4BagoJ. Pease5-1
Respectable third in Arc, but his four-race losing streak is a concern
5MotivatorM. Bell8-1
Tired fifth in Arc; might be well past his English Derby-winning form
6Fourty Niners SonN. Drysdale12-1
Finally got a good trip in Clement Hirsch, and won; respect the barn
7Better Talk NowH. G. Motion6-1
Won the Man o' War and U. N., but was outkicked in the Arl. Million
8English ChannelT. Pletcher12-1
Just missed in Turf Classic; it's news when this 3yo doesn't run well
9AceA. O'Brien12-1
Third in Turf Classic; hasn't been able to crack top Euro's on this list
10ShiroccoA. Fabre12-1
Wasn't a bad fourth in the Arc at a big price; barn always dangerous
The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.