10/26/2005 11:00PM

Motion's second go-around no less a thrill


ELMONT, N.Y. - Graham Motion was an unknown trainer on the national stage when Better Talk Now pulled a 27-1 upset in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star Park last year.

When the same horse leads Motion's four-horse team at Saturday's Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park, bettors will know what to expect from Motion. A native of England, Motion, 41, has been reminding racegoers throughout the year that his Maryland-based operation turns out contenders in many of the nation's top races.

Through Tuesday, Motion, who has 80 horses in training, had stable earnings of more than $4.1 million, good enough for 15th on the national trainers' list. It represents a personal record for Motion.

Those earnings, and Motion's ranking, could rise substantially with big performances Saturday from Better Talk Now or Shake the Bank in the Turf, Film Maker in the Filly and Mare Turf, or Funfair in the BC Mile.

The significance of achieving a repeat with Better Talk Now is not lost on Motion.

"The fact it looks we could get back to the BC is a huge thrill for all of us," he said, referring to the Bushwood Stable partnership, which owns Better Talk Now. "It's kind of what I've dreamed of doing all year."

Better Talk Now has not received as much attention for the Turf as you might expect for a defending champion who has won two Grade 1 races this year. To an extent, that concerns Motion.

"It bothers me only for the horse and the owners," he said. "I think what the horse has done is pretty remarkable since last August - the Sword Dancer, the Breeders' Cup, and the two Grade 1 races this year. At the same time, we all feel that we've had a great ride with this horse. Whatever happens is gravy, if you like."

Better Talk Now was the third of Motion's three starters on Breeders' Cup Day in 2004, the first year he had starters on a Breeders' Cup program. Motion finished second in the Filly and Mare Turf with Film Maker and fifth in the Juvenile Fillies with Dance Away Capote, before Better Talk Now rallied through the stretch and survived an inquiry to win the $2 million Turf.

"We were kind of along for the ride," Motion said, recalling his trip to Texas. "I don't know if it was the fact it was in Texas, but we all felt very relaxed. I was happy with the way my first one ran. When Film Maker ran I was thrilled to bits, but slightly disappointed, since she'd come so close. The thrill and shock of winning the Turf and the inquiry was an emotional rollercoaster."

Saturday, Shake the Bank is a rabbit for Better Talk Now. Motion said he gives all three of his other horses a chance, which is noteworthy because they will not be favored.

"Last year, I thought Film Maker was my best chance," he said. "Better Talk Now, having won the race this year, I imagine he'll be the shorter price this year. I love the way Film Maker is coming into the race. This is her time of year.

Funfair is a 2005 addition to the stable. A 6-year-old, Funfair was a handicap-class horse in England last year, but is unbeaten in three starts with Motion this year, including an upset win in the Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park earlier this month.

Funfair races for Cheveley Park Farm of Newmarket, England, not far from Motion's hometown of Herringswell.

"I'm very happy with Funfair," Motion said. "He's a very easy horse and a kind horse to train. He's very straightforward and uncomplicated. He's pretty laid back. On raceday he gets a little wound up."

Based at Fair Hill, Md., Motion has been on his own since the early 1990's after working as an assistant to Jonathan Sheppard, Jonathan Pease, and Bernie Bond. Film Maker gave him his first Grade 1 in the 2003 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Keeneland.

The development of Better Talk Now, who won his first Grade 1 stakes in the 2004 Sword Dancer Handicap at Saratoga, has been a boost to Motion.

"It brought the attention of some of the European owners," Motion said. "When you do run in the Breeders' Cup it is an international stage, whereas the rest of the year, that is not the case. I'm sure it helped."