05/20/2006 12:00AM

Better Talk Now gets up

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Better Talk Now wins the Dixie Handicap on Saturday at Pimlico.

BALTIMORE - Better Talk Now hadn't raced in six months, was running at shorter than his preferred distance, and his entrymate failed to set the fast pace he normally does.

None of that mattered Saturday, as Better Talk Now showed that he again will be a force in the turf division by rallying from last to win the Grade 2, $250,000 by a head over Dreadnaught at Pimlico. It was a neck back to 1-2 favorite Artie Schiller in third.

He was followed in the order of finish by Sabre d'Argent, Rebel Rebel, Shake the Bank, and Dr Detroit.

Better Talk Now, the 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf winner, was making his 7-year-old debut in the Dixie, having not raced since finishing 12th in the Japan Cup last November. Moreover, he had run poorly in two previous tries in the Dixie.

Still, trainer Graham Motion said he entered the Dixie feeling "as confident today as I've felt for a while."

Shake the Bank, who is designated as Better Talk Now's rabbit, stumbled at the start and jockey Tommy Turner had to get after him to get to the front. He ran an opening quarter in 25.18 seconds and the opening half-mile in 48.38 seconds.

Artie Schiller, under Garrett Gomez, stalked Shake the Bank through three-quarters of a mile in 1:12.03. Artie Schiller made the lead turning for home. Meanwhile, Dominguez had Better Talk Now in last place early. He split horses down the backstretch and rallied along the rail to gain contention turning for home.

With Gomez having to get after Artie Schiller to open a two-length lead, Dominguez was trying to decide whether to go inside of his tiring stablemate or come off the hedge and attempt to split Dreadnaught and Artie Schiller. He opted for the latter and just got up, winning a head bob over Dreadnaught.

"There was not a whole lot of room, but he was pretty game getting there," Dominguez said. "He certainly ran a huge race, especially off the layoff."

Better Talk Now, a son of Talkin Man, owned by the Bushwood Racing Partners LLC, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.48 and returned $9.40 to win.

"I'm amazed he went off at 7-2; that was good value," Motion said. "This isn't his distance, don't forget. He's running a little short of his game, and he's a 7-year-old now. He's just a remarkable horse."

Artie Schiller, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, lost for the second time this year. He fell a nose short in the Maker's Mark Mile.

"His last race he came home really, really sharp with me and he ran really hard, especially off a layoff," Gomez said. "Today, I don't know if it was the ground or what. He switched leads with me a couple of times and felt a little uncomfortable."