05/01/2007 11:00PM

Better Talk Now returns in Woodford


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and $300,000 Humana Distaff will once again highlight the undercard for Saturday's 133rd renewal of the Kentucky Derby. The Grade 1 events are two of five graded stakes on a 13-race program that begins at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Trainer Graham Motion will bring the 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now back at the age of 8 for yet another campaign in the 1 1/8-mile Woodford Reserve. He will be joined in the starting gate by Shake the Bank, who served as a rabbit for him on five occasions in 2005 and 2006. Better Talk Now has not started since finishing second, beaten a half-length by Red Rocks, in the 2006 Breeders' Cup Turf. He will face a group that includes Grade 1 winners Einstein and Milk It Mick, Icy Atlantic, Go Between, Defer, and Sky Conqueror.

Einstein overcame a horrible trip to capture the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Jr. Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 10. Milk It Mick has not won since upsetting the Frank Kilroe Handicap at Santa Anita in March 2006.

California invader Pussycat Doll will be back to defend her title in the seven-furlong Humana Distaff, which she won by one length over Behaving Badly in 2006. Pussycat Doll has started just once since that victory, rallying to a four-length decision in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 28.

The Humana Distaff also features the return of Bushfire, a three-time Grade 1 winner last year at 3, who finished third over the Churchill Downs strip in the 2006 Kentucky Oaks. Bushfire has never started at a distance under a mile or since stopping badly to finish 11th in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

The undefeated Half Ours is the one to beat, if he starts, in the $250,000 Churchill Downs Handicap. Half Ours, perfect in five starts, was also entered by trainer Todd Pletcher at 1 1/16 miles in Friday's Alysheba Handicap. The same holds true for Wanderin Boy, who is also among the key contenders in the seven-furlong Churchill Downs. Ah Day, a fast-finishing third in the Grade 1 Carter on April 7, would be a major beneficiary of a rapid pace, as would Will He Shine and Istan.

The $150,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile drew a field of only seven fillies and mares to go a mile on the turf, topped by Price Tag, who has captured both her starts in the United States, including the Grade 1 Matriarch last fall at Hollywood Park. She'll have to beat Rich Fantasy, Lady of Venice, and Magnificent Song.

The $150,000 La Troienne Stakes may be the most wide open of the five stakes on the card. A field of 11

3-year-old fillies will go 7 1/2 furlongs in the Grade 3 event.

Appealing Zophie, a Grade 3 winner around two turns, will be ridden by John Velazquez and should be among the favorites, along with stakes winner Time's Mistress and Total.