09/02/2004 11:00PM

Greek Sun set to shine soon

Greek Sun shoots to become only the fifth 3-year-old to win the Man o' War Stakes.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Only four of the previous 46 runnings of the Man o' War Stakes have been won by a 3-year-old. The first to do it was Secretariat in 1973. The last to do it was Defensive Play in 1990.

Trainer Bobby Frankel hopes Greek Sun is the next to do it when he runs in next Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park.

In a year that has seen a plethora of good 3-year-old turf horses, Greek Sun has been somewhat overshadowed. At 2, Greek Sun won both of his starts, including the Hill Rise Stakes. But he was soon found to have chips in both knees, which required surgery.

Greek Sun returned to the races in June at Hollywood Park, winning the Grade 3 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap by two lengths. After a seven-week layoff, Greek Sun faced Kitten's Joy - the best 3-year-old turf horse in the country - in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes and was beaten 3 1/4 lengths. Greek Sun encountered traffic trouble in the race.

"He wasn't even fit the other day and he ran good,'' Frankel said. "He impressed me so much in the Secretariat. I don't think I ever got him fit and he still runs. He's never had a chance to run the same distance twice where he'd build up some stamina.''

Greek Sun has run races at one mile, 1 1/16 miles, 1 1/8 miles and 1 1/4 miles. The Man o' War is run at 1 3/8 miles.

Greek Sun, a son of Danzig, was scheduled to work at Del Mar on Saturday and then ship to New York at the beginning of the week. As of Friday, Frankel was still in search of a rider though he was unabashedly encouraging Angel Cordero Jr., agent for John Velazquez, to shake free of a previous commitment.

The Man o' War is expected to attract a solid if not spectacular field. Those considered definite are Stars and Stripes Handicap winner Ballingarry, Sword Dancer winner Better Talk Now, United Nations Handicap winner Request for Parole, and Epalo, who finished fourth but was moved up to third in the Arlington Million. Possible starters include Balto Star, Sabiango, Senor Swinger, and Strut the Stage.

Better Talk Now tunes up

Better Talk Now breezed seven furlongs in 1:32 on Friday at the Fair Hill, Md., training center, according to trainer Graham Motion.

With exercise rider Fenella O'Flynn aboard, the 5-year-old gelding Better Talk Now breezed once around the oval over a surface made of wood chips, Motion said, which made the final time seem deceptively slower than a usual seven-furlong workout.

Better Talk Now recorded his first Grade 1 victory, and first win of the year, in the Sword Dancer on Aug. 14 with a late rush under Ramon Dominguez to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Motion said Better Talk Now was very headstrong throughout his career, but his recent ability to relax has pushed him to a Grade 1 performance level.

"He has really settled down," Motion said from Fair Hill, "He's the most relaxed he's ever been. Fair Hill has been a very relaxing environment for him. He is also older and more mature now."

Motion added that Better Talk Now has raced under five different riders in his last five starts. This may have caused him to be headstrong, he said, but the fact that Dominguez will become his regular rider is something that pleases Motion.

"I am really anxious to keep the same rider on him from here on out," Motion said

Bowman's Band works; Woodward possible

Bowman's Band has not won a race yet this year. It's not for lack of trying.

Bowman's Band has run eight times, all in graded stakes, including five Grade 1's. He was beaten only three-quarters of a length when second in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap and was third in the Skip Away, Pimlico Special, Whitney and, most recently, the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap.

On Friday, Bowman's Band worked four furlongs in 49.67 seconds over Saratoga's main track. Following the Saratoga Cup, Jerkens mentioned the Meadowlands Cup as the next target for Bowman's Band, last year's Meadowlands Cup winner. But Jerkens is toying with the idea of running him back in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward Stakes at Belmont.

As of Friday, the only confirmed runners for the Woodward were Ghostzapper, Midway Road, Newfoundland, and Saint Liam. Bowman's Band and Presidentialaffair are possible.

Society Selection likely to skip Gazelle

Jerkens faces a similar dilemma with Society Selection that he does with Bowman's Band - whether to run or not. Only with Society Selection, Jerkens will likely not run her next weekend in the Grade 1 Gazelle.

Jerkens said Society Selection came out of her wins in the Test and Alabama in good shape, but owners Irv and Marjorie Cowan have their hearts set on the Breeders' Cup Distaff and would like to run her in the Grade 1, $750,000 Beldame on Oct. 9 as a prep.

"That's the one thing about the Breeders' Cup, a lot of people stay out of races they would normally go in,'' Jerkens said. "When your horse is doing well and you have to wait, you wonder if your horse is going to be the same way when you get [to the race].''

Surgery goes well for Gander

Gander underwent successful surgery on Friday to repair a fractured pastern bone in his left foreleg, his connections said. Gander, an 8-year-old New York-bred gelding, fractured the short pastern bone in that leg during a workout on Wednesday at Saratoga, an injury that ended his racing career.

Dr. Alan Nixon performed the surgery at Cornell University in upstate New York. Initially, Gander was to be sent to Dr. Larry Bramlage in Kentucky, but Bramlage suggested going to Cornell due to the shorter trip.

"They completely fused the pastern,'' said Tonja Terranova, wife of and assistant to trainer John Terranova. "He will have total movement of his ankle and his knee. He'll be almost as good as new.''

Tonja Terranova said that Gander would have to spend the next six to eight weeks at Cornell University.

* Sightseek breezed six furlongs in 1:13.81 over the main track on Friday morning. She is being pointed to the Grade 1, $300,000 Ruffian Handicap at Belmont on Sept. 18.

- additional reporting by Ryan Goldberg