Thursday, July 2, 2009

Handicappin' Better Talk Now's Fourth United Nations

He won this very same race four years ago, finished fifth in 2006 and ran third in 2007. "The Black Horse" will return to Monmouth Park for his fourth try in the Grade I $750,000 United Nations on Saturday July 4.

Better Talk Now, now 10-years-young will break on the outside of a field of nine 1 3/8 miles event. Among those entered for this year's United Nations include last year's winner and seven other graded stakes winners.

Here's the field:

1. Banrock: Tom Bush's New York-bred ran too well to lose last time, just three weeks ago in the $200,000 Monmouth over good ground. The six-year-old closed off a solid pace set by eventual winner Presious Passion to miss by a nose.

How he can help Better Talk Now: Has won on the lead before, although it was against New Yorkers. Hoping the connections notice the lack of speed and keep him closer to Presious Passion. Reality there is he probably is not fast enough to succeed in that front-running role. Likely to come from off the pace.

2. Strike A Deal: Reunited with C.C Lopez, whom he won the G II Red Smith under in November.

How he can help: Has shown decent early running ability, could be closer than normal. Missed by a neck in 2008's rendition, will have to be closer to reel in live front-runner.

3. Brass Hat: Won last time out in the Louisville Handicap at Churchill. Prior to that effort, eight-year-old had not been within a length of the winner since 2007. Will be way out of it early.

4. Spice Route: Roger Attfield trainee sports a competitive track record. 5-year-old son of King's Best likes to do his running late. Nearly caught Presious Passion while spotting him 22 lengths, at this distance over the winter on the speed-favoring Gulfstream green. Although this are the big boys, his style mirrors BTN's. Rival.

5. Court Vision: A bit of a Jekyll & Hyde type. Looked primed in the Manhattan, but seemed not at his sharpest. His win in G I Hollywood Derby jumps off the page, although he has missed out of the exacta in his next four. Gomez returns as regular rider Dominguez participates in Belmont's big day. Very capable. Only one question, which side of him will show up?

6. Lauro: The Herringswell wildcard. The German import COULD is disguised as the second half of BTN's entry. The speed he's shown can, in an ideal situation, keep P.P honest, leading to a pace scenario of BTN's liking. Won a G II in Canada last October on the lead in an absolute crawl. Disappointingly not involved pace-wise in the Manhattan. Hoping for a sharp break on Saturday and ideally challenge for the lead through the first nine-furlongs.

7. Presious Passion: The well-talked about six-year-old makes all his money on the lead. Still does not get the respect he deserves. His last three wins (all on the lead) came at 1 1/8, 1 3/8 and 1 1/2 miles. He didn't steal them either, setting his own pace of :46.1, 1:11 in the last two and :48 and 1:12.3 while going 12-furlongs. This race sets up for him pace wise. Hoping pal to his inside changes that theory.

8. Wesley: Has never won against this type of company but trainer Hennig is more than capable. His run in the Dixie was impressive. Should almost certainly appreciate the added distance.

9. Better Talk Now: Obviously holds the seniority of the group. That is well-documented. What seems to be dismissed is that this guy can still run. He ran well in his first start off substantial layoff in the Elkhorn at Keeneland. His Manhattan effort showed he was just stretching his legs at Keeneland. It was only last summer that he finished just 2 1/2 behind Red Rocks and Curlin in the Man O' War. Then 2 behind Saratoga-lover Grand Couterier. No doubt about it in best form since then and that trio does not show up here. That Manhattan effort sets him up nicely for this spot. Extra distance is crucial and will most likely not have to be 5-wide off-the-turn.

What he'll need: He needs somebody, Lauro comes to mind, to contend with Presious Passion for the lead. The latter does not need to go slow up front to win. Especially the way this race has came up. If something unexpected happens pace-wise, odds are it'll be a good thing. Good news is, the others should finally respect Presious Passion and not let him get out there the way he likes it. On the other hand, there is a lot behind the pace-setter on Saturday. BTN, Court Vision and Spice Route were not in the Monmouth Stakes last month.


  1. Where's Shake the Bank when you need him? Good luck this weekend, i'll be there rooting him on, i have the UN saddle cloth of his from I think 2005, did he scratch maybe? Anyways good luck

  2. Will be rooting Blackie on from Texas!! And, I'll be cheering for Rebellion on Sunday! :-)

    Best of luck to Team Herringswell this weekend!

  3. Hope Blackie's injury is not serious, good luck to Rebellion, Leamington and all the other runners this weekend. Scotty

  4. Best wishes to Blackie for a quick recovery from his splint injury. Hope he comes back soon and gets his 10 year old grade 1 this year.