Breeders' Cup Turf Continued

When starter Roger Nagle sprang the gates, Aly's Alley and Dixie Handicap (gr. IIT) winner Quiet Resolve both caught flyers and instantly cleared the field. Shane Sellers soon pulled Quiet Resolve back off the pace, settling alongside John's Call, but the void was filled by Mutamam, who quickly dashed over toward the hedge under Richard Hills.

By now, the tone had been set, as Edgar Prado slowed Aly's Alley to a virtual crawl rounding the first turn. The opening quarter had elapsed in :24.77, but with only token pressure from Mutamam, the son of Alwuhush continued his stroll, passing through a half in :50.35.

This spelled certain doom for Montjeu, a confirmed closer who had taken up his usual spot at the back. Kalanisi, however, had enjoyed a smooth trip so far, tucked in at the rail in ninth with Fruits of Love and Williams News to his outside. Murtagh, aboard Kalanisi for just the second time, had kept his colt quiet for the first six furlongs, drafting behind Fantastic Light. As they headed up the backstretch, though, with Mutamam now pressing Aly's Alley from the outside, Murtagh began to glance around, looking for a way to give Kalanisi some breathing room.

"I felt at the half-mile, the race was starting to develop then," he said later, "and I didn't want to get stuck on the inside because I wanted to get a clear shot."

But he would still have to wait. Aly's Alley and Mutamam began to cut loose after a mile in 1:39.97, leaving a mad scramble for position in their wake. John's Call was ready to explode under Jean-Luc Samyn, but he was pinned behind the pace by Quiet Resolve. Corey Nakatani avoided the log-jam altogether and sent Manndar four-wide on the far turn. Murtagh had steered Kalanisi out from behind Fantastic Light, but with Ciro and Williams News still present to the right, they remained anchored inside.

Up front, Mutamam had now taken command, but Sellers and Quiet Resolve were right on his tail.

"The pace was so slow that it was a sprint from the quarter pole, and that's why I moved on him," Sellers explained. "I just went for broke. And I had a lot of horse underneath me."

With Quiet Resolve now committed heading into the stretch, John's Call finally had room to lengthen out. He matched Quiet Resolve's power with a burst that gave Samyn an incredible rush.

"At the eighth pole," he said, "I really thought we were home free because he took off."

With just a quarter-mile to run, Sellers knew he was home free. A furlong later, Samyn was fired up and ready for greatness. Murtagh, however, had spent part of the morning examining the Churchill grass with jockey Gary Stevens. Stevens acknowledged Murtagh's concerns about Kalanisi's rail post and the prospects of an idle pace. His advice was simple.

"It's a long stretch," Stevens had told him. "Don't panic."
Turning for home, Murtagh had waited long enough. Ciro had backed up just enough to present an outside crease. Murtagh aimed right, and Kalanisi ignited. Inside the sixteenth pole, it was anybody's guess. Quiet Resolve had already dealt with Mutamam but still had his hands full with John's Call.

But they were no match for Kalanisi. John's Call shifted out slightly nearing the wire, but Murtagh stayed cool. Putting away his stick, he gathered his colt and went to a lively drive. With a final quarter somewhere in the mid-22 second range, Kalanisi nailed them all, streaking by to win by a half-length in 2:26.96. Quiet Resolve, at nearly 42-1, held off John's Call by a nose, with Mutamam just a head back in fourth. Montjeu was never able to make an impact. He ended up seventh, though beaten just 4 1/2 lengths.

"Oh, he ran a great race," Samyn said later, positively pleased with the effort of John's Call. "You've got to be proud if any horse that does that, but for a 9-year-old, I think it's just fabulous. He was trying the hardest he could."

Interestingly, each successive quarter-mile was quicker than the one before it. It was a European-style race, and naturally, a European went home with all the hardware. Kalanisi, however, was purely dazzling. He just needed every inch of the 12-furlong trip to prove his mettle.

"Hey, Gary!" yelled Murtagh, throwing a bear-hug around Stevens back in the jockeys' rec-room. "I was hoping that straight was as long as you said it was, man!"

For the 30-year-old Irishman, it's been a banner year, his Turf score added to nine group-I victories, accented by Sinndar's scintillating run in the Arc de Triomphe. His Breeders' Cup ride was seamless, though he readily admits he's simply excited to catch a rising star at ground level.

"Definitely, I got a great run through the race; everything worked out perfect for me, but this is a real high-class horse," the rider remarked. "We had a bit to do, but fair dues to the horse. When I got outside them, he really battled gamely. He's as tough as nails; he's real hardy. He's special."

Stoute shares the same sentiment. With six wins from just nine outings--and harrowing seconds in his only defeats--Kalanisi has now staked his claim as the world's premier grass horse. As the day's events began to settle in, his trainer hinted that the lightly-raced colt has only just sparked his true talent.

"That was great acceleration to come from where he did, wasn't it?" said Stoute back at Barn 42. "I mean, look at him. He's beaten Montjeu at Newmarket, and then he's come here now and he's progressed the last couple of races again. He just keeps going forward every question you ask him."