08/27/2003 11:00PM

Better Talk Now, Revved Up in for Niagara


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Saturday's Niagara Handicap attracted a surprising total of six invaders, and the number of arrivals had reached four on Thursday when Better Talk Now and Revved Up checked in during the pre-dawn hours. Cetewayo and Bowman Mill, both trained by Michael Dickinson, shipped in earlier this week. Dr. Kashnikow and Jack's Own Time were still en route.

Better Talk Now, who had been training at Fair Hill, Md., was accompanied by exercise rider Fenella O'Flynn.

A Kentucky-bred 4-year-old gelding owned by Bushwood Racing Partners and trained by Graham Motion, Better Talk Now is an improving horse who enters the 12-furlong Niagara off a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap over 1 1/4 miles of turf.

The first-place finisher there, by a neck, was Honor in War, who two starts earlier became a Grade 1 winner in the Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs.

"A little bit farther, and I think he would have got there," said O'Flynn of Better Talk Now.

Better Talk Now went into the Arlington Handicap off his first stakes win, in Delaware Park's June 29 Eight Thirty Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on the grass. The Niagara will be his longest race to date.

"He's feeling great," said O'Flynn. "Hopefully, he'll get the mile and a half."

Rene Douglas, the runaway leader in the Arlington jockey standings, rode Better Talk Now in the Arlington Handicap and has the call Saturday. The gelding gets in with 115 pounds and will race with blinkers on.

Revved Up vans in from Saratoga

Revved Up vanned in from Saratoga along with groom Herminio Garcia.

Owned by Live Oak Plantation and trained by Christophe Clement, Revved Up is coming off a front-running win in the Cape Henlopen Handicap, a 1 1/2-mile turf race at Delaware Park July 20 in which he set a course record of 2:26.46.

Patrick Husbands, who rode Madeira Mist to victory for Clemente here in the July 5 Dance Smartly, has the mount on Revved Up.

Two Woodbine-based Atto candidates work

Two locally based candidates for the Sept. 14 Atto Mile worked five furlongs on the fast main track here Thursday. Chopinina was clocked in a bullet 59.60 seconds and Soaring Free in 1:00.60.

Chopinina, a 5-year-old mare owned by Knob Hill Stable and trained by Alec Fehr, finished second at 55-1 in last year's Atto Mile, a Grade 1 turf race for 3-year-olds and up.

Thursday's drill was Chopinina's first since she became a stakes winner here in the Aug. 2 Royal North, a six-furlong turf race for fillies and mares.

While Fehr acknowledged that Chopinina's clocking was impressive, he was not particularly pleased with the mechanics of the exercise.

"[Jockey] Richard Dos Ramos was on her for the first time ever," said Fehr. "I had her out with a nice little filly - Solina, a maiden, who's a good work horse."

Fehr said the plan was for Chopinina and Solina to break off together, but Solina, an unraced 3-year-old, wound up spurting four lengths clear and Chopinina was unable to catch up.

"I was rather disappointed with her," said Fehr. "She had dirt flying back, hitting her in the face the whole way, and I didn't want that. But she came out of the experience none the worse for wear."

Dos Ramos has the call on Chopinina for the Atto Mile as Kabel, who rode the mare in the Royal North, is sticking with Soaring Free, whom he worked Wednesday morning.

"He worked perfect," said Mark Frostad, who trains Soaring Free for Sam-Son Farm. "I prefer to work him on dirt; he works well on it."

Soaring Free, a 4-year-old gelding, is undefeated in five starts this year, including three consecutive turf stakes, and heads into the Atto Mile off a smart score in the Aug. 16 Play the King over seven furlongs.

El Prado Essence goes for third Seaway

El Prado Essence, winner of the last two runnings of the Seaway Stakes, faces nine rivals in Monday's $140,575 Seaway, a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares.

A Kentucky-bred 6-year-old, El Prado Essence began her campaign with a bang, winning the 6 1/2-furlong allowance prep for the Hendrie Handicap here April 27 and the Hendrie itself two weeks later.

But El Prado Essence then finished fifth, 9 1/2 lengths behind subsequent Grade 1 winner Harmony Lodge in the June 22 Sweet Briar Too, and has not raced in the interim.

"I sent her away for four weeks," said Audre Cappuccitti, who trains El Prado Essence and owns the mare in partnership with her husband, Gordon.

"There was nothing for her, and she usually runs well fresh. She's been working really nice. I hope she's tight enough."

El Prado Essence, who came off an identical layoff to win last year's Seaway, has four workouts since returning to the racetrack, the latest a six-furlong drill in 1:14.80 here Tuesday.

Dream Launcher freshening up

Dream Launcher, the other big shooter in the Cappuccitti outfit, followed the same path as El Prado Essence and is freshening up at Addison-Hall Farm in nearby Aurora.

"He didn't run as well as I thought he would in his last race," said Cappuccitti, who had watched Dream Launcher finish fourth, beaten six lengths, here in the Aug. 3 Seagram Cup.

"I thought maybe he needed a little time off. He's not a sound horse; he has his problems."

Cappuccitti is hoping Dream Launcher will be ready to defend his title in the Grade 3 Durham Cup, a 1 1/8-mile race here Oct. 4.

* Sunday's scheduled supporting feature, the $100,000 Silver Deputy Stakes, failed to fill when only four horses entered. The Silver Deputy, a 6 1/2-furlong race for 2-year-olds, is not part of the guaranteed stakes schedule, and required a minimum of five entrants to be carded.