INGLEWOOD, CALIF., NOV. 21 -- Backed by an unstable stable, Theatrical found the steady hands of Pat Day upon him today, and he repelled a stout challenge by Trempolino through the stretch to win the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Hollywood Park.

Theatrical had been a subject of discussion all week, not solely because he was favored in the 14-horse field. Theatrical had run under the colors of breeder Bert Firestone, who owned a 25 percent share in the horse; but Allen Paulson, with a 50 percent interest in Theatrical, wanted Day to sport Paulson's red, white and blue silks.

The dispute went to California's Horse Racing Board, which Thursday voted in favor of Paulson. Friday, Paulson bought out Firestone -- agreeing to divide any purse earnings under the previous ownership arrangement -- and today they stood together in triumph after Day had the final word on a firm turf course.

With just more than a quarter-mile remaining in the 1 1/2-mile race, their prospect of winning seemed tenuous. Day had Theatrical in front, but Pat Eddery nudged Arc de Triomphe winner Trempolino past him on the outside and appeared on his way to capturing the $900,000 prize.

But with the reins firmly in grip, Day wrested victory from the French colt and his British rider. He urged Theatrical briefly with the whip, then put it away and began to drive the horse with his hands. Low in the saddle, arms thrusting with Theatrical's every stride, Day presented a stark contrast to Eddery, who was upright in the saddle, practically bouncing as he employed pronounced right-handed strokes with the stick.

"Theatrical was just playing with Trempolino in the stretch," Day said. "He wasn't straining at all."

Jockey and horse in sync, Day drove Theatrical past Trempolino inside the eighth-pole, and he didn't let up until his mount passed the wire in 2:24 2/5, a half-length ahead of Trempolino and more than a length in front of Village Star, ridden by Cash Asmussen.

Asmussen's father, trainer Keith Asmussen, was the first employer for Theatrical trainer Bill Mott. Mott, 34, started in Asmussen's midwest stable at age 14, earned his license at 16 and opened his own public stable at 25. But even with 18 years of experience, he was uncertain of Theatrical's chances in the early stretch.

"At that point in the race," Mott said, "I thought the horse could have us. But I know how Pat rides, and I knew he'd have a little horse left to stand off the challenge. It was just another great Pat Day ride."

Day, who trails Maryland's Kent Desormeaux by about 20 victories in the national jockey standings, got his second winner of the day with Theatrical. He rallied 30-to-1 Epitome to defeat Jeanne Jones in the $1 million Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies.

"Obviously, these races today were very big," Day said. "But I haven't lost sight of my goal, which is still to be leading rider in wins and purses."

For his part, Desormeaux apparently made the right decision in turning down the mount astride Washington, D.C. International runner-up Great Communicator. The gelding galloped to a five-length lead under Angel Cordero Jr., kept the advantage for a mile, then gave way when Sir Harry Lewis, Theatrical and Trempolino collared him.

As Great Communicator ended 12th, Paulson and Firestone were on their way to the winner's circle. In addition to his stake in Theatrical's $900,000 triumph, Paulson picked up another $50,000 when the winner's stablemate, Louis Le Grand, was fifth. As winning breeder, Firestone collected $50,000.

"I guess we took the boxing gloves off last night {after the settlement}," Paulson said. "The way things turned out, it looks like I might have made a pretty good decision."

But using Day was the best decision of all.