Motion enjoys trifecta of long-shot joy

His 27-to-1 `Better Talk' wins

2 others fare well

Horse Racing

October 31, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - H. Graham Motion, who trained horses at Laurel Park for years and now trains at Fair Hill in Cecil County, brought three horses to the Breeders' Cup in his first involvement with North American racing's marquee day.

Motion, 40, won the $2 million Turf with Better Talk Now after a bumper-cars stretch engulfed the race in controversy. He finished second in the $1.41 million Filly and Mare Turf with Film Maker. Motion's third entrant, Dance Away Capote, finished fifth in the $1 million Juvenile Fillies after running into traffic problems around both turns.

"This is so wonderful," said Motion, a native of England and understudy to the Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard. "This has turned out to be an amazing day, to have three horses run this well and all of them long shots."

Better Talk Now was 27-1. Film Maker was 16-1. And Dance Away Capote was 15-1.

In the Turf, a 1 1/2 -mile test seen as a showdown between Kitten's Joy from the United States and Powerscourt from Ireland, Better Talk Now charged past both in the stretch - and made contact with both after cutting in front of Magistretti, who finished fourth. The stewards ruled that Better Talk Now and his jockey, Ramon Dominguez, did not interfere with the other horses or affect the outcome.

"Knowing his antics, I was very worried," Motion said, referring to Better Talk Now's propensity for veering inside late in a race. "We've been through this before with this horse."

Like Motion, Dominguez, a frequent rider in Maryland, was participating in his first Breeders' Cup. He said neither he nor his horse did anything wrong.

"I feel like I had total control of my horse at all times," Dominguez said. "I don't feel like I came over at all."

John Velazquez, jockey of runner-up Kitten's Joy, the 3-5 favorite, disagreed, saying he thought his horse would have won with a clean trip.

"The winner hit me pretty hard," Velazquez said. "He put me in a bad spot. But my horse was having trouble with the ground. I slapped him a couple of times. ... I finally got him running, then he had to stop. It completely stopped our momentum."

Distaff

Ashado clinched the 3-year-old filly championship with a 1 1/4 -length victory in the $2 million Distaff, becoming the seventh 3-year-old to win the race. The 2-1 favorite also presented her trainer, Todd Pletcher, with his first Breeders' Cup win after 12 attempts.

Pletcher, who leads North American trainers in earnings, celebrated in grand Texas style as Velazquez guided Ashado under the wire.

"You say you haven't seen me that excited," Pletcher said. "You haven't seen me win a Breeders' Cup race."

Juvenile

Racing for the first time on dirt and the first time beyond a mile, the English colt Wilko upset the Americans in the $1.5 million Juvenile. The son of Awesome Again, a 10-race veteran of the European turf, will remain in this country under the tutelage of Craig Dollase, a California trainer.

Afleet Alex, the Delaware Park sensation, finished second. The highly regarded Roman Ruler finished a lackluster fifth.

Juvenile Fillies

For the fourth straight year, the winner of the Juvenile Fillies ran faster than the winner of the Juvenile. Sweet Catomine completed 1 1/16 miles in 1 minute, 41.65 seconds. Wilko covered it in 1:42.09. Sweet Catomine's win was all the more impressive because she overcame trouble throughout the race.

Mile

Named for Ravens linebackers coach Mike Singletary, the 4-year-old colt Singletary scored an upset at 16-1 odds in the $1.68 million Mile. Trained by obscure Californian Don Chatlos Jr. (this was his 11th win of the year), Singletary held off a late charge from the Irish-based Antonius Pius for a half-length win.

Bill Koch, a movie producer from California, is managing partner of the 13-member group that owns Singletary. Koch became a Chicago Bears' fan while at Northwestern University, and Chatlos is a Chicago native. Singletary, the football player, was a standout linebacker with the Bears.

Mr O'Brien, the Maryland entrant, broke unusually sharply from his 14 post position. That might have cost him, as he lacked his usual late kick and finished ninth at 20-1 odds.

Filly and Mare Turf

Ouija Board reaffirmed her rank as the world's top female turf runner with a powerful victory in the $1.41 million Filly and Mare Turf. Earlier this year she won the English and Irish Oaks and then, in her last race, finished a strong third against males in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in France.

Sprint

After Pimlico speedster Abbondanza set a blistering pace, Speightstown pounced from his stalking position for a 1 1/4 -length victory in the $1.06 million Sprint. Abbondanza faded to 11th, one place ahead of Maryland-bred Our New Recruit.

Speightstown's victory ignited a debate over the significance of the Breeders' Cup in Eclipse Award balloting. This was Speightstown's fifth win of the year but his first Grade I score. Pico Central, the leading contender for the sprint championship, skipped the Breeders' Cup but has also won five races, of which three were Grade I sprints.

Pletcher, whose win with Speightstown was his second on the Breeders' Cup program, lobbied for his horse, a 6-year-old son of Gone West.

"Today is the world championships," Pletcher said. "In my eyes, if it's close, this is the race that separates closeness."

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