Soon after the first flag fell in the one-mile, $1 million Juvenile, the dingdong pattern of racing was set for the day. In a game stretch drive that drew attention to him as a contender for the 1986 Kentucky Derby, Tasso raced to a desperate nose victory over Storm Cat. Of the seven races, five were decided by margins of a length or less. And curiously, inasmuch as the Breeders' Cup is a creation of the Kentucky breeding industry, the first four winners on Saturday were bred, of all places, in Florida.
Still, the day left a lot of people besides Florida breeders with something to crow about. Prominent among them were trainer D. Wayne Lukas and owner Eugene Klein, the former proprietor of the San Diego Chargers. Klein's pastime these days is buying high-priced yearlings and putting them under Lukas's care. In the $1 million race for 2-year-old fillies, Lukas sent out two horses owned by Klein, Twilight Ridge and Family Style. As they raced under the wire, finishing first and second, seven lengths ahead of the rest, Klein bounded from his seat and headed down to the winner's circle, crying, "One and two, right on! How about that! One-two! It's like coming in first and second in the Super Bowl."
Three races later, in the event for fillies and mares, Lukas and Klein pulled off the same double. They ran one-two with Life's Magic, whom Klein owns with Mel Hatley, and Lady's Secret.
Given the kind of year that Lukas has been having—the victory by Life's Magic was his 63rd stakes win of 1985 and pushed his earnings to more than $10 million, both American records—his performance in the Breeders' Cup was not as remarkable as the stunning triumph of Pebbles in the $2 million grass race. In fact, the English-bred chestnut with the white blaze won the brilliancy prize for her victory in the 1½-mile race. Hemmed in on the rail, she had no room to run in the backstretch. At one point she lost four lengths when a horse brushed into her. Turning for home, with a wall of horses in front of her, Pebbles looked beaten.
Suddenly the front-running Tele-prompter drifted out, and Pebbles's rider, Pat Eddery, swung her over and sent her into the breach. "She went in there real quick." Eddery said. "She really put her toes out and started eating up the ground." Pebbles pounced like a cat into the opening, snatching the lead in an instant, then held off Strawberry Road, with Steve Cauthen riding, to win it all by a neck in a course record 2:27.
In the end, though, the day belonged to Galbreath, Veitch and Proud Truth. Proud Truth came to the Breeders' Cup on a schedule that appeared to give him only an outside chance of winning the Classic. After finishing fifth in the Kentucky Derby last May, the colt won the Peter Pan while preparing for the Belmont Stakes. But after that race it was discovered that he had suffered a slight fracture of a cannon bone, and Veitch and the Galbreaths gave him the summer off.
It wasn't until Oct. 7, when he won an allowance race at Belmont Park, that he really began to come back. He then won the Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct on Oct. 26, only a week before the Breeders' Cup, but Veitch figured that it was enough to get him home.
"The last race was just what we hoped for," said Veitch, "and it gave him a race over the track. That's a tremendous advantage. The horse couldn't be better."
No one was more buoyed by the colt's chances than his exercise rider, Charlie Rose. "I'm telling you, he is better than ever," Rose said. "He feels so good. I hope he's a better horse than he was this spring, when he won the Florida Derby. I'll tell you this. He's certainly a stronger and more mature horse."
Whatever Proud Truth had become—whether stronger, more mature or simply better—it was enough to get him home in the Classic in 2:00[4/5], good time on any man's racetrack. For John Galbreath, it was the moment of a sporting lifetime. He had won three World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates, of which he became an owner in 1946 and agreed to sell last month. He had also bred and owned two Kentucky Derby winners, Chateaugay and Proud Clarion, and an Epsom Derby winner, Roberto. He had bred and raised the ill-fated Graustark, one of the most gifted horses of all time, the sire of Proud Truth. With Graustark an aging 22 this year and nearing the end of his breeding career, Galbreath had been hoping to breed a son of his to carry on the line at the farm.