The rivalry of Sunday Silence and Easy Goer may not be resumed for at least a year.
Sunday Silence's close victory Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the $3-million Breeders' Cup Classic made the owners $1.35 million and likely will make him American Horse of the Year.
But no one is talking about the colts meeting again in what would be their fifth confrontation. Sunday Silence has won three of the four, and he is returning to California.
Trainer Charlie Whittingham said the colt probably will run in the Strub series for 4-year-olds, starting in January at Santa Anita.
"But I don't know," said Whittingham, taking a moment to exaggerate. "After you get through the Strub series, which is for 4-year-olds, the next logical start is the Santa Anita Handicap. If you do good in the Strub series, they put 9-million, 400-pounds on your horse, and the year's just started.
"I suppose it's a good idea to run him in the Strub races, then wait for the fall to run in the weight-for-age races at Belmont Park."
Whittingham was referring to several rich races, such as the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Woodward Stakes, in September and October at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
It was pointed out to Whittingham that the 1990 Breeders' Cup Day will be at Belmont Park, too.
"Hmm," he said with a grin.
Whittingham said the victory Saturday gave him a great deal of satisfaction. Sunday Silence had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness over Easy Goer, then lost to that colt in the Belmont Stakes. The loss cost Whittingham and his partners a bonus of about $2.5 million that is awarded to a Triple Crown winner.
"That loss was humiliating," Whittingham said.
Trainer Shug McGaughey said he was disappointed as he made plans to ship Easy Goer back to Belmont Park. McGaughey's entire stable will spend the winter in Florida, but Easy Goer probably will not run until a prep for the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park on Memorial Day.
"I'm thinking about the Handicap Triple Crown," McGaughey said. "I want to give him a long rest and then come back in the Met Mile, the Brooklyn and the Suburban."
McGaughey agreed that Sunday Silence is talented, but no more so than Easy Goer.
"No, that horse is not better," McGaughey said. "I guess some people might say it because he has beaten Easy Goer three times. But they're both good. Let's leave it at that."
McGaughey also refused to criticize the ride of Pat Day, even after McGaughey walked from the stands at Gulfstream Park Saturday to the barn area while several fans yelled such things as, "Get a new jockey."
When asked if Day would ride Ogden Phipps' colt next year, the trainer nodded and said, "As far as I'm concerned."
"Pat and I both agree that he made a couple of mistakes when Easy Goer lost to that horse in the Preakness," McGaughey said. "But not in the Breeders' Cup.
"When he got within a half-length of that horse, Pat thought he could get him anyway. But he couldn't. That's all. The other horse has some real quickness and (rider Chris) McCarron is a pretty cagey little guy."
With 3 1/2 furlongs remaining in the 1 1/4-mile race, McCarron let Easy Goer move within a half-length of his horse, Sunday Silence. McCarron and Sunday Silence, racing second at that point, then moved about three lengths ahead of Day's mount.