08/13/2004 11:00PM

Better Talk Now gets his Grade 1

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Better Talk Now with Robby Albarado up wins the 2004 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga Racecourse.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Better Talk Now became a Grade 1 winner in Saturday's at Saratoga, defeating Request for Parole by 1 1/2 lengths.

Balto Star, the pacesetter, finished third, three-quarters of a length behind Request for Parole in the 1 1/2-mile turf race. It was another length back to Rochester in fourth. Silverfoot and B. A. Way completed the order of finish.

Under Ramon Dominguez, Better Talk Now made a bold move from the outside in the final sixteenth to pass Request for Parole and Balto Star.

As expected, Balto Star set the pace in the $500,000 Sword Dancer. Balto Star, the 3-2 favorite with John Velazquez in the saddle, set comfortable fractions of 24.48 seconds, 49.87, 1:15.08, 1:40.23, and 2:04.62 over the yielding turf. Better Talk Now trailed the field for the first mile while saving ground.

Request for Parole, who was ridden by Javier Castellano, made a run at Balto Star at the top of the stretch and took the lead with a furlong remaining before being run down by Better Talk Now.

Better Talk Now ($17.80) covered the distance in 2:28.49. Better Talk Now, a 5-year-old son of Talkin Man, is owned by Bushwood Stable.

For Balto Star, the turf was a bit too soft, said Velazquez, who rode four winners on the card.

"It's hard for him to quicken up again," he said. "He hit a couple of spots on the backside where the tire tracks are and he slipped a couple of times."

The conditions were perfect for Better Talk Now, who is trained by Graham Motion.

Motion said: "I'm so thrilled to win this race. The race set up perfectly, and what a great job Ramon did riding him."

Better Talk Now showed a fondness for a turf course with give in it last November when he won the Grade 2 Knickerbocker at Aqueduct.

The Sword Dancer was Better Talk Now's first win since the Knickerbocker.

With his win in the Sword Dancer, Better Talk Now has a record of 7-5-2 in 22 starts and earnings of $679,437.