Out of this eerie twilight, on the outside, Easy Goer emerged to make a last, desperate run at Sunday Silence through the final 110 yards. Cordero, still hoping for second, saw Easy Goer first. "He was like a giant swooping down on me," said Cordero. "But he was going after Sunday Silence, and I just watched them run to the lights at the wire. A great race!"
McCarron couldn't believe what he saw in those final yards. "I felt I had the race won," he said, "and then I saw Easy Goer again. I thought I'd put him away leaving the half-mile pole. I thought. Here he comes again! But I didn't hit my horse. I just kept shaking the stick."
Easy Goer was two lengths back, but he was running at Sunday Silence in long, devouring jumps. "He finally found his stride," Day said. "I thought we could catch him. I never gave up on him." He was a length behind with 30 yards to go. Then half a length. With 10 yards to go, Easy Goer was closing with a rush, and a good many of the bettors in the place were leaning toward the wire with him, like so many palm trees bending in the wind. But in the final jump, under the yellow beam shining across the track, Easy Goer fell a neck short. The winning time of 2:00[1/5] represented an extremely fast performance on this track.
It was a tremendous horse race. Up in the box seats, Arthur Hancock, one of the three owners of Sunday Silence, knelt in front of his seat in a prayerful pose with his hands clasped over the railing, then rose to embrace his wife, Staci. Sunday Silence was born and raised at the Hancocks' Stone Farm in Paris, Ky., and on a day dedicated to the business of thoroughbred breeding, Hancock was a winner in more ways than one: He now not only owns half of a Horse of the Year, but he also stands the colt's sire, Halo, at Stone Farm. The way his year is going, Halo could end up as the nation's leading sire in money won by his offspring, a much-coveted achievement for a farm in the Blue Grass.
Ultimately, though, this was Whittingham's hour. Since those stunning defeats in the Belmont and the Swaps, he meticulously charted his plan to bring the colt to the Breeders' Cup Classic. After the victory, horseplayers and horsemen alike feted him. From the second-floor balcony of the clubhouse, bettors called and chanted his name. He waved to them and winked at a friend. "If I ran for governor of Florida now, I'd probably get elected," he said. On his way back to the barn to see his weary colt, he spotted trainer John Gosden.
"We caught him, John!" Whittingham yelled.
"You caught him just right," Gosden said. Then, speaking for all his fellow horsemen, Gosden added, "Brilliant stuff."