09/10/2005 12:00AM

Better Talk Now by a neck

Better Talk Now (outside) comes all the way from ninth to defeat King's Drama by a neck in the Grade 1 Man o' War Stakes on Saturday at Belmont.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Same script, different venue.

In a virtual replay of the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park this summer, Better Talk Now and his rabbit, Shake the Bank, double-teamed the competition to win a Grade 1 stakes.

Better Talk Now outdueled King's Drama by a neck to capture the $500,000 on Saturday at Belmont Park. Relaxed Gesture was third.

Better Talk Now ($8.10) ran the 1 3/8 miles in 2:11.65, equaling the stakes record set by Influent in 1997 and Royal Mountain Inn in 1994.

Just as in the U.N., Shake the Bank had a clear mission: to ensure a solid pace for his stablemate's stretch rally. Once again, it worked to perfection, as Shake the Bank, with Tommy Turner aboard, sprinted clear to a huge lead down the backstretch.

"Tommy did a great job," said trainer H. Graham Motion. "I told him we needed a half in 47-and-change, and he did a perfect job."

Shake the Bank was right on the money, running the half in 47.21 seconds. On the turn, Shake the Bank's lead rapidly dwindled as Relaxed Gesture and King's Drama, who were laying second and third, started to close in.

Better Talk Now, ninth in the early stages under Ramon Dominguez, angled to the outside on the final turn to launch his rally. The stretch run was a dandy, with Relaxed Gesture on the inside, King's Drama in the middle, and Better Talk Now gaining with every jump as the trio battled to the wire. Better Talk Now found a little more at the end to earn another Grade 1 victory.

"It's amazing to me how little respect this horse gets," Motion said. "I don't think any horse in any division has accomplished in the last year what he has."

Better Talk Now's next goal is to score a repeat victory in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 29.

Just as he did last year, Better Talk Now will use the Man o' War as the final prep for the Turf.

"I think he's getting better," Motion said. "This was the perfect prep. He does well with time between races. My dream has always been to get him back to the Breeders' Cup."

Motion said Better Talk Now suffered a cracked hoof three days before the race and ran with a patch.