04/20/2005 11:00PM

'Better Talk' would relish soft turf

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Mother Nature could be trainer Graham Motion's best friend or worst enemy on Saturday when he plans to run defending Breeders' Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now in the $100,000 Fort Marcy Handicap at Aqueduct.

Five of Better Talk Now's eight turf wins have come on courses that were less than firm, including both of his wins over this course. Rain is in the forecast for Saturday, but if it rains too much then the Fort Marcy could be transferred to the dirt.

Six horses were entered should the Grade 3 Fort Marcy be run on turf at 1 1/16 miles as scheduled. Five horses were entered for the dirt if the race is moved to the main track, in which case it would be run at one mile. Motion said Better Talk Now would not run on dirt, but he is eager to get the 6-year-old gelding started.

"I kind of feel like he's been ready to run for a couple of weeks so [fitness] shouldn't be a problem," Motion said. "If it becomes a deep, boggy course then that becomes a concern."

Two concerns for bettors wanting to play are the 1 1/16 miles of the Fort Marcy - he is 0 for 1 at that distance - and that his opponent L'Oiseau d'Argent could get loose on the lead. Carrying 123 pounds, Better Talk Now will spot the field 6 to 9 pounds.

Like Better Talk Now, is coming off a lengthy layoff, having not run since finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Knickerbocker Handicap here last Oct. 30. He shows several bullet works for his return, and will be the one to catch under Richard Migliore - though he would prefer firm turf.

"I don't think he likes a lot of give in the ground," Migliore said. "He's going to be on the lead because you can't hold him. You have to bargain with him and hope he doesn't go too fast."

upset last year's Fort Marcy at odds of 32-1, giving trainer Allen Jerkens his fourth win in this race. Chilly Rooster ran second in his two most recent starts, both on the turf at Gulfstream. Jerkens also entered Ecclesiastic.

Remind finished fifth as the 6-5 favorite in last year's Fort Marcy after winning a third-level allowance race at Gulfstream. He enters this race after winning a fourth-level allowance last month.

Bahama John, an eight-length winner in the mud on April 3, may be the horse to beat if the race is moved to the dirt. Bailero, who won an allowance race on Thursday, was also entered back.