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Kona Gold, Solis Finally Win One


LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After running third at Churchill Downs in 1998 and second at Gulfstream Park last year, Kona Gold won the Sprint on Saturday, giving jockey Alex Solis his first Breeders' Cup win after 31 unsuccessful mounts.

"This is an overwhelming feeling," Solis said. "The monkey's finally off my back. You work hard all year and then get to the Breeders' Cup and get no more than seconds and thirds, that's very aggravating. I've always told my kids to never quit and keep trying, and that's what it takes. I'm so proud of this horse. I've been riding him since he was a 2-year-old, and I love him to death. It's like my kids, I've seen him grow up."

Kona Gold, a 6-year-old gelding trained by Bruce Headley, beat the filly Honest Lady by half a length. Kona Gold's time of 1:07 3/5 broke the six-furlong record at Churchill Downs, where Big Pistol had set the mark with a 1:08 3/5 performance in 1986.

Bet On Sunshine finished third. Favored Kona Gold paid $5.40.

"I don't think the record time had anything to do with the track condition," Headley said. "This is just a fast horse. He also set the track record for 5 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita."

TURF / Kalanisi's Effort Beyond Compare

A tremendous year for jockey John Murtagh continued when he rode Kalanisi to a half-length win over 41-1 shot Quiet Resolve. John's Call, the 9-year-old gelding, finished third, only a nose back of Quiet Resolve.

Besides riding Kalanisi for trainer Michael Stoute, Murtagh was also the regular rider for the now-retired Sinndar, who won the Arc de Triomphe and the English and Irish Derbies.

"After my [English Derby] win at Epsom, an interviewer said to me that things couldn't get any better than this," Murtagh said. "Well, they've gotten better every day. It's been a fantastic year. Things can always get better for you when you're riding good horses."

Asked to compare Kalanisi and Sinndar, Murtagh was stopped in his tracks.

While he pondered the question, Stoute said:

"He's just lucky to have ridden both of them."

"That's the answer," Murtagh finally said.

Kalanisi, bred and owned by the Aga Khan, paid $11.20, completing 1 1/2 miles in 2:26 4/5 on a firm course. The favorite, Montjeu, was far back early off a slow pace and finished seventh.

JUVENILE / Macho Uno Becomes Numero Uno

The second of two winners raced by Frank Stronach was Macho Uno, who beat Point Given by a nose. Street Cry was third, with A P Valentine, the favorite, finishing last in the 14-horse field.

Macho Uno, winning for the third time in only his fourth start, won despite drifting badly to the right under Jerry Bailey's right-handed whipping late in the stretch. Winning in a time of 1:42 for 1 1/16 miles, Macho Uno paid $14.60.

It was Bailey's second win of the day, giving him 11 overall and tying him with Pat Day for the Breeders' Cup lead. Day didn't have any winners Saturday.

"It would have been a shame if [Macho Uno] had gotten beaten, because he was the best horse," Bailey said. "He thought the race was over."

Macho Uno becomes the early favorite for next year's Kentucky Derby, although a Juvenile winner has never won the Derby.

"We hope to get him straightened out by [the Derby], because he's an exceptional horse," trainer Joe Orseno said.

A P Valentine, ridden by Jorge Chavez, won the Champagne at Belmont Park three weeks ago and his breeding rights were sold last week for an estimated $15 million.

"At the quarter pole, I thought we were going to blow by everybody," Chavez said. "When I asked him, he had run out of gas."

FILLY & MARE TURF / Perfect Sting Goes the Distance

Thirty minutes before Macho Uno's win, Stronach, Orseno and Bailey combined with Perfect Sting for a three-quarter-length win over Tout Charmant in the 1 3/8-mile race, which was introduced to the Breeders' Cup program last year.

Perfect Sting, clocked in 2:13, paid $12 while winning her fifth race in six starts. A four-race winning streak was snapped by Tout Charmant at Keeneland on Oct. 13.

"I wasn't sure she could go this distance, but she sure proved it," Bailey said. "She likes to win, and all those 1's next to her name are there for a reason."

Perfect Sting gave four pounds to Tout Charmant at Keeneland. On Saturday, they both carried 123 pounds.

Petrushka, the favorite, finished fifth.

"She was never really traveling well," jockey Murtagh said. "Usually she is very generous, but she never kicked it in today."

MILE / Grass Greener for War Chant

Before his Fusaichi Pegasus disappointed in the Classic, trainer Neil Drysdale saddled War Chant, another 3-year-old, for a neck win over North East Bound. A pair of noses separated the next two finishers, with Dansili third and Affirmed Success fourth.

War Chant, Drysdale's sixth Breeders' Cup winner, had made his grass debut only three weeks ago, winning the Oak Tree Mile at Santa Anita.

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