06/28/2017 10:05AM

Better Talk Now, winner of 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf, euthanized at 18

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Barbara D. Livingston
Grade 1 winner Better Talk Now earned $4.36 million on the racetrack.

Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now was euthanized Tuesday evening at New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania due to complications following colic surgery. The Talkin Man gelding was 18.

Better Talk Now had been at New Bolton since June 7, when he underwent an initial colic surgery. On June 15, it was announced that complications had required a second surgery.

“He displayed the same toughness fighting his final battle as he did when showing his special talents on the track that won him so many fans in the racing world,” co-owner Brent Johnson said in a statement.

Better Talk Now was trained for the majority of his career by Graham Motion and, after being retired from racing in 2009, continued to reside at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, where Motion’s Herringswell Stable is based. The gelding, known affectionately as “Blackie,” shared a paddock with 29-year-old Gala Spinaway, Motion’s first stakes winner.

Herringswell’s Maggie Kimmitt wrote a blog post on Better Talk Now’s death, saying that a group from the stable spent his final evening with him, including his regular exercise riders, Fenella O’Flynn and Lisa Davison. Regular jockey Ramon Dominguez and his wife, Sharon, joined the group remotely via Facetime.

“So many stories were shared,” Kimmitt wrote. “There were a great many tears shed, but just as many smiles. What a character he was – willful, opinionated, often cantankerous. But always a star, and he knew it. It was Blackie’s way or the highway. He mellowed a bit in retirement and never failed to realize when visitors had come especially to see him. And come they did; his following was huge and fiercely loyal.”

Better Talk Now compiled a record of 51-14-8-5 and bankrolled $4,356,664 while racing at 18 different tracks in four countries. He made his first five starts for his breeder, Wimborne Farm, and trainer Diane Perkins before being privately purchased following his nine-length maiden victory in July 2002 and transferred to Motion.

Carrying the blue-and-white silks of Johnson, Karl Barth, and Chris Dwyer’s Bushwood Stables, Better Talk Now competed in five consecutive editions of the Breeders' Cup Turf, winning the race in 2004 at Lone Star Park over champion Kitten's Joy. He also finished second, beaten half a length by Red Rocks, in the 2006 edition at Churchill Downs, with eventual champion English Channel in third.

Better Talk Now's other Grade 1 victories came in the 2004 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga, the 2005 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth, the 2005 Man o' War Stakes at Belmont, and the 2007 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont. He also won the Grade 2 Knickerbocker Handicap in 2003 at Belmont, the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes in 2006 at Pimlico, the Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes in 2006 at Woodbine, and the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Handicap in 2005 at Belmont. In total, he recorded 20 stakes wins or placings.