11/08/2004 1:00AM

Motion may press for Eclipse


MIAMI - Just about everyone seems to have conceded the turf championship to Kitten's Joy despite his second-place finish to Better Talk Now in the Breeders' Cup Turf. But H. Graham Motion, who trains Better Talk Now, doesn't quite understand why that should be, and he isn't giving up hope that his horse may still be able to curry favor with the voters before the season ends.

Better Talk Now, who defeated Kitten's Joy by 1 3/4 lengths in the Turf, was sent back to Motion's main base at Fair Hill, Md., where he will be prepared for perhaps one more start before the books are closed on the 2004 campaign.

"Right now we have three options," Motion said Monday at the Palm Meadows training center, where he was inspecting the horses he has already bedded down for the winter. "Either go to the Japan Cup at the end of this month, to California for the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 4, or put him away until next season.

"But he came out of the Breeders' Cup so well, there are some financial opportunities available, and if he were to win another Grade 1 race before the end of the year I don't see how he couldn't be considered the leading contender for the Eclipse Award."

Motion, who trains Better Talk Now for Bushwood Racing Partners, said a decision on whether to go to Japan would have to be made by the end of the week.

"Naturally, we hadn't even looked beyond the Breeders' Cup until he won the Turf," said Motion. "So if we decide to send him to Japan we'd have to make all the arrangements on short notice, since he'd have to leave by early next week."

Motion said Better Talk Now's accomplishments this year - he also won Saratoga's Grade 1 Sword Dancer and was a wide-running fourth in the Grade 1 Man o' War - qualifies him for consideration for the title.

"Maybe I'm a little prejudiced, but I don't think Kitten's Joy should be a lock for an Eclipse Award by any means," Motion said. "Both horses won two Grade 1 races this year, and the first of [Kitten's Joy's] was against 3-year-olds.

"The fact we beat him fairly easily in our only head-to-head meeting should also count for something."