Better Talk Now Added to River City Lineup
A late change of plans has given trainer Graham Motion a pair of high-powered contenders in the weekend turf stakes at Churchill Downs.
Brent Johnson, Karl Barth and Chris Dwyer's Better Talk Now, winner of the Knickerbocker (gr. II) at Aqueduct last time out, has arrived at Churchill Downs to run for Motion in Sunday's $150,000-added River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds and up. The 4-year-old son of Talkin Man arrived in Louisville overnight with Film Maker, the winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) at Keeneland who will be among the favorites for Saturday's $150,000-added Mrs. Revere (gr. IIT) for 3-year-old fillies on the grass.
Motion said the River City entered the picture for Better Talk Now because of concerns over the weather and turf conditions in New York. The Red Smith (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct on Nov. 22 had been his original target.
"It's probably the last time we're going to run him this year," said Motion. "I didn't want to wait for the race in New York and then have it come off the turf, so that's why we decided to take a shot at Churchill."
The River City comes just two weeks after Better Talk Now's Knickerbocker win, but Motion said the 4-year-old gelding has thrived since that race and decided the Churchill Downs race was a good spot.
"He came out of the race super," he said. "It's quick to come back in two weeks, but the mile and an eighth was attractive. I think a mile and an eighth really is his optimum distance."
Better Talk Now has a record of 6-3-2 in 17 races and has earned $337,437 and Edgar Prado will travel from New York to ride.
Trainer Niall O'Callaghan confirmed Thursday that Belmont Breeders' Cup (gr. II) winner Della Francesca would run in Sunday's River City. The 4-year-old son of Danzig, who is owned by Ol' Memorial Stable, Dell Ridge Farm and O'Callaghan, will be ridden by Jorge Chavez.
Ol' Memorial is the stable of University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, who was already scheduled to be at Churchill Downs on Sunday for "Rick Pitino and University of Louisville Sports Legends Day."
Pitino is scheduled to present the trophy to the winner of the River City, which would mean that he would be presenting the trophy to himself if Della Francesca wins the race.