08/10/2007 12:00AM

Better Talk Now injured at bad time


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - An injury to Better Talk Now's left front ankle not only knocked him out of Saturday's Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga, but also figures to alter the 8-year-old gelding's fall campaign leading up to the Breeders' Cup.

Trainer Graham Motion had hoped to run Better Talk Now in the Sword Dancer and then the Man o' War at Belmont on Sept. 8, leading up to the Breeders' Cup Turf on Oct. 27. But Better Talk Now will have to walk for as long as two weeks, which won't give him enough training time to make the Man o' War.

"Realistically, the Man o' War is going to be pushing it," Motion said. "If he's got to walk for a week or two, I'd only have one chance to breeze, which is not going to be enough."

Motion said he would look at either the $300,000 Sky Classic at Woodbine on Sept. 23 or the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont on Sept. 30 for Better Talk Now's next start.

Motion was bitterly disappointed about having to scratch Better Talk Now from the Sword Dancer, a race the gelding won in 2004. According to Motion, Better Talk Now suffered a puncture wound to his left front ankle when he hit himself during the running of the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth on July 7. Motion felt that he had the issue under control, and Better Talk Now galloped strongly over the main track on Thursday morning.

Better Talk Now galloped Friday morning as well, but came back with some fluid coming out of the wound. Motion was forced to treat the area with antibiotics.

"The biggest issue is not to bring him back too quickly so this is a recurring problem," Motion said. "Although it is a big deal. To miss out on this race, which has been our summer goal, is pretty disturbing, but there's nothing we can do about it."

Motion said Better Talk Now would remain in Saratoga until the middle of next week before shipping back to Motion's Fair Hill, Md., stable.

Sun King, Wanderin Boy to Woodward

Wanderin Boy and Sun King, second and 10th in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap, are both being pointed to the Grade 1 Woodward here Sept. 1, trainer Nick Zito said.

On Thursday, Wanderin Boy worked a half-mile in 49.88 seconds over the Oklahoma training track. On Friday, Sun King went the same distance in 52.06 over the training track.

"Sun King looked like a 2-year-old today," Zito said. Regarding the Whitney, Zito said Sun King "steadied sharply and he took a lot of dirt. He had a big clot in his eye; his eye was closed. It reminds me of a race he ran at Gulfstream, but then he came back to win the Commonwealth."

Zito said Wanderin Boy "looked tremendous" during his breeze.

Meanwhile, Zito said that C P West, second to Street Sense in the Jim Dandy, is still being pointed to the Travers, though a workout scheduled for Thursday would likely determine whether he runs.

Diamond Stripes may miss Woodward

Diamond Stripes came out of his third-place finish in the Whitney with some muscle tears in his hind end, putting his participation in the Woodward in doubt. Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said that Diamond Stripes is in light training at Aqueduct and that he hopes to be able to breeze the horse in two weeks.

"He hasn't trained good since he's run, and Edgar [Prado] said he felt terrible in the race," Dutrow said. "Maybe something happened a few days before the race that I just wasn't aware of. It's not like he ran terrible in the race, but Edgar said he just wasn't in the game."

Dutrow said the horse is jogging every day at Aqueduct under Rudy Rodriguez. The trainer said Diamond Stripes would jog for 10 days, gallop for three, then breeze. If Diamond Stripes can't make the Woodward, Dutrow will point him to a race at Belmont such as the Brooklyn or the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

"We do have the Breeders' Cup on our mind," Dutrow said. "I know he's a nice horse. I just think we haven't seen the best of him and I got to get him right."

Silver Wagon out for the year

Silver Wagon, the Grade 1 Carter winner, is out for the year with a cracked shin, Dutrow said. Dutrow said Silver Wagon is recuperating on a farm in Ocala, Fla., and his owner, Four Roses Thoroughbreds, intends to bring him back to the races next year.

"He must have done it before the Met Mile, because he ran terrible in that race and he's always run good for us," Dutrow said. "We're letting him heal up."

Dutrow said Silver Wagon would winter in New York because he doesn't do well in Florida. Dutrow said he would like to point Silver Wagon to the General George Handicap at Laurel in February. Silver Wagon won that race last year.

Meeting deals with gate problems

New York Racing Association management, the stewards, the jockeys, and a few members of the gate crew met on Thursday in hopes of finding a way to curtail the problems that have occurred at the gate this meet.

Bruce Johnstone, the manager of racing operations, characterized the meeting as a first step in opening the lines of communication between all concerned parties.

"We did dabble in a few little technique issues," Johnstone said. "It was a good discussion. Our concern is to minimize the amount of mistakes that can happen."

Jockey John Velazquez, who has been involved in several of the instances at the gate, said better communication is the key.

"Basically, we have to have better communication from us, to the assistant starter, to the starter, the way [they] handle horses and the way we sit on our horses," Velazquez said.

Phantom Income set for Adirondack

With the likes of Dream Rush and High Finance in his barn, trainer Rick Violette Jr. has had a terrific run of late in stakes races. And he is hoping his good fortune continues on Wednesday, when he sends out the 2-year-old filly Phantom Income in the Grade 2, $150,000 Adirondack Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Phantom Income was a sharp winner of her debut at Belmont Park, crushing maidens by 10 3/4 lengths on July 6. Violette then elected to bypass the first 2-year-old stakes race of this meet, the Schyulerville, in order to await the Adirondack.

"She's not a big filly. She's only this high," Violette said Friday morning, holding his hand about shoulder height. "It would have been nice to make the first one, especially in hindsight, but this was the right thing to do."

Violette said he expected Phantom Income to run well first time out, "but I was surprised at how easy she did it."

"I thought she had some talent," he said. "She was very impressive."

Another 2-year-old Violette trains, the colt Fed Watcher, will likely point for an allowance race. Fed Watcher was a debut winner, too, but then was fifth here in the Sanford Stakes in a performance that has given Violette pause about coming back in the Grade 1, $250,000 Hopeful Stakes at seven furlongs on Sept. 3.

"He spotted something in the infield when the winner went by him, and made a right-hand turn at the eighth pole," Violette said. "I worked him in blinkers on Thursday. I'm not sure I want to put blinkers on him, because he has enough speed as it is, but he sees things. I'd like him to focus better. That might come with age and maturity."

Fed Watcher - a chestnut colt who has a massive blaze that is as wide as his eyes and runs from his forehead to his nose - has some growing up to do. He was cantankerous in his stall, and assistant Melissa Cohen warned a visitor to be cautious.

"The thing of it is, he ran so professionally first time out, straight as an arrow," Violette said. "But he's a little quirky."

- additional reporting by Jay Privman