By John Manley
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — "Good horses make good jockeys," John Murtagh said.
If Murtagh needed any reminding, Kalanisi refreshed his memory less than two minutes after they crossed the finish line first in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs last weekend.
Murtagh had just concluded a TV interview on horseback and was preparing to return to the winner’s circle with his steed when Kalanisi remembered the location of the gap to the stable area, a passage he had taken each morning for the last week after his morning gallop.
The Irish-bred colt’s sudden move caught Murtagh unaware and the jockey came out of his saddle. Luckily, he landed on his feet and was soon hoisted back onto Kalanisi’s back, looking good once again. And how good he looked coming down the lane.
Kalanisi, owned by the Aga Khan, had been reserved well off the pace throughout the first mile of the 12-furlong race. He was seventh with a quarter mile to run and fourth straightening for home.
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.
Murtagh, still down on the hedge, brought Kalanisi out for clear sailing, pumping and slashing all the while. The 4-year-old colt made Murtagh look suitable for framing, lunging closer to the leader, Quiet Resolve, with each stride, the finish line in danger of appearing a moment too soon.
But the wire stayed fixed far enough down the lane for Kalanisi to pass his rivals with time enough to spare, a half-length’s margin left between himself and Quiet Resolve, with John’s Call another half-length back in third.
Irish-breds Montjeu and Manndar gave disappointing accounts of themselves, placing seventh and eighth, respectively. Subtle Power, also foaled in Ireland, was 10th. Fruits of Love, owned by Michael Doyle of Killybegs, Co. Donegal, broke in the air and was never prominent, finishing 11th.
With Kalanisi’s triumph lodged squarely in the frontal lobe, the appearance of Giant’s Causeway surging in similar fashion, one-half hour later in the Classic, brought about visions of deja vu.
It might have been better termed deja voodoo.
The Aidan O’Brien trainee closed to be on even terms with Tiznow less than 200 yards from the finish. Reasonable minds might have concluded that with the momentum belonging to Giant’s Causeway, he would prevail, with Tiznow grudgingly accepting the lesser laurels with a hearty pat on the shoulder for a job well done.
But Tiznow and Chris McCarron were having none of that. We’ll see how Tiznow comes back to the races this winter, but if he appears to be lacking heart, it’s because he left it on the Churchill track with dusk settling in.
Tiznow held off Giant’s Causeway by a neck to win the race that was heralded as Fusaichi Pegasus’ swan song. Instead, the fat lady sang for Fusaichi, as he finished an off-key sixth.
"I thought I was going to win, but Chris just had a little more horse," said Kinane. "I’m so proud of my colt. He’s just an amazing horse."
Pine Dance and Pat Smullen placed 10th in the Classic. Trainer Dermot Weld said afterward that the colt’s next assignment may be the Japan Cup Dirt at Tokyo Racecourse on Nov. 25.
Trainer Niall O’Callaghan’s Guided Tour came in 12th after an especially rough trip.
A pair of Irish-bred colts gave their connections reason to circle the first Saturday of May on their calendars.
Street Cry ran third in the Juvenile as the 5-1 third choice, while Turnberry Isle, dismissed at 48-1, closed well down the stretch to finish sixth.
Street Cry was Eoin Harty’s first Breeders’ Cup starter. Although he mastered his California nemesis, Flame Thrower, he couldn’t gain on Macho Uno in the stretch.
Plans are for the Godolphin operation to send Street Cry to Dubai to prep for the Kentucky Derby under S’ed bin Suroor. Harty will be off to Dubai some time this winter to begin overseeing Godolphin’s 2001 2-year-old crop.
Turnberry Isle’s pedigree served him well in his first dirt effort. The Deputy Minister colt made up six lengths on the leaders in the lane and looked comfortable with the surface under Kinane. Trainer Aidan O’Brien said that the Derby will be under consideration for Turnberry Isle in 2001.
The afternoon began with shockers in the Distaff and Juvenile Fillies before War Chant put some money back into the punters’ wallets in the Mile.
Crimplene looked ready to surge to the fore in the Distaff, but the Irish-bred filly’s reserves were spent and she soldiered on to a fourth-place finish behind 55-1 Spain.
Caressing then won the Juvenile Fillies at 47-1. Owner Carl Pollard credited Irish bloodstock agent Mike Ryan for the astute purchase of Caressing as a yearling.
Indian Lodge had been doubtful for the Mile, his connections concerned by the firmness of the ground. Their doubts proved well-founded. The Irish-bred finished 13th and next-to-last under Pat Eddery.
Tipperary native Jamie Spencer’s first Breeders’ Cup ride was lost coming out of the gate when Arkadian Hero’s antics in the stall cost him ground to his rivals. He ran last.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin received a sixth-place finish from Altibr, while Pat Gallagher’s Walkslikeaduck walked home in 12th place.
Petrushka disappointed as the 7-5 favorite in the Filly & Mare Turf. Teamed with Murtagh, she put in a run similar to Kalanisi’s, but without the late flourish. She finished fourth, almost four lengths behind Perfect Sting.
"She was never really traveling well today," Murtagh said. "Usually, she is very generous, but she just never kicked it in today."
The two other Irish-breds in the Filly & Mare Turf, Caffe Latte and Goldamix, kept each other company, with only a nose separating their ninth- and 10th-place finishes, respectively.