09/08/2004 11:00PM

Euros have edge in Man o' War

Better Talk Now, winner of last month's Sword Dancer, tries for his second straight Grade 1 win in Saturday's Man o' War.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Several horses who raced in two of the summer's biggest turf races for males, the Sword Dancer and Arlington Million, will converge on Belmont Park for Saturday's $500,000 Man o' War.

, the first three under the wire in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga on Aug. 14, are among eight turf males entered in the Grade 1 Man o' War. Also entered in the Man o' War are Epalo and Magistretti, who both benefited from the disqualification of Powerscourt in the Arlington Million on Aug. 14.

Trainer Bobby Frankel entered and Greek Sun, who will try to become the first 3-year-old to win the Man o' War since 1990. Ballingarry, a multiple stakes winner, completes the field. Greek Sun carries 121 pounds, five pounds fewer than his older rivals.

Gary Tanaka owns Epalo and King's Drama, therefore those horses are coupled.

, a lukewarm favorite in the Arlington Million, figures to vie for favoritism with Better Talk Now, who at odds of 8-1 posted a minor upset in the Sword Dancer.

Better Talk Now finished second to Kicken Kris in the Grade 2 Bowling Green at Belmont in July.

"I think he proved he can handle Belmont in the Bowling Green," trainer Graham Motion said. "The wider turns and course suit my horse."

Ramon Dominguez rides Better Talk Now, who has won on firm, good, and yielding ground. He drew the inside post.

Epalo, who came from Germany to run in the Arlington Million, remained in this country after the race. Epalo appeared to be tiring in the stretch of the Million when Powerscourt bumped him and Kicken Kris, whom the stewards placed first. Epalo moved up to third when Powerscourt was disqualified to fourth. Magistretti, who was making a late outside rally and not bothered in the incident, was moved from third to second.

Germany's leading trainer, Andreas Schutz, trains Epalo, and Magistretti makes his first start for trainer Patrick Biancone. Both horses competed successfully at the top level in Europe and Asia and appear capable of beating the American runners, who are a solid but not brilliant bunch.

Balto Star, fourth in this race last year, is the likely pacesetter under John Velazquez. Balto Star is amazingly consistent, but usually needs to have things his own way to win. In his last start, his second off a layoff, he set the pace in the Sword Dancer and weakened in the stretch. He was beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Better Talk Now.

"I thought it was a decent effort and he looks like he is rounding back into form," said Todd Pletcher, Balto Star's trainer.

Heavy rain hit Belmont during the week and that wasn't good news for Request for Parole and his trainer, Stanley Hough.

"He doesn't like a soft course," Hough said.

Conversely, Ballingarry, who won the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes for the second year in July, relishes soft ground.

"The softer, the better," said Laura de Seroux, Ballingarry's trainer.

Frankel's runners are an intriguing duo. Greek Sun was second behind Kitten's Joy, perhaps the best turf male in the country, in the Grade 1 Secretariat. King's Drama was a deceptively good fourth in the Grade 1 Manhattan in June and has won two allowance races since then.

The field

Man o' War
Purse: $500,000; 1 3/8 miles, Turf; Grade 1

1Better Talk NowR. Dominguez1266-1
2BallingarryR. Douglas12615-1
3MagistrettiE. Prado1264-1
4Request for ParoleJ. Castellano1266-1
5Greek SunC. Velasquez1213-1
6EpaloA. Starke1269-5
7King's DramaJ. Chavez1269-5
8Balto StarJ. Velazquez1268-1

* Coupled: Epalo and King's Drama
* Odds by Brian Pochman