Thursday, October 27, 2005 Contact: Breeders’ Cup Notes Team (516) 328-6017
“Perfect” Management Key to Record Fourth Classic Start
In an era when it is more fashionable to retire a horse to the breeding shed than to keep them in training, it is somewhat rare to see a horse making multiple starts in the same Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championship race. There have been 17 horses to start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge twice , but only Tiznow has won the race twice. Marquetry started in the Classic three times, but Perfect Drift, who has competed at the highest level since his three-year-old season, will set a precedent when he starts in the Classic for the fourth straight year at age six.
Kona Gold, the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, currently holds the record with five consecutive starts in the Sprint from ages four to eight. El Senor made four straight starts in the Turf. Pleasant Tap made four consecutive starts from 1989 to 1992 and ran in a different race each year- the Juvenile, Turf, Sprint and Classic.
Affirmed Success and Precisionist also made four appearances in the Breeders’ Cup, but ran in two different races and Riskaverse will be making her fourth appearance in the Filly & Mare Turf. However, the Classic is the richest race on the Breeders’ Cup card and to come to the race with a legitimate shot each year makes Perfect Drift’s feat all that much more impressive.
Perfect Drift, a gelding owned by Stonecrest Farm’s, is the only horse to have competed in the 2000 Kentucky Derby still in training. He was third that year behind War Emblem and since then, has finished in the top three in at least one Grade I race each year. What keeps him on the track, competing at the highest level, are carefully orchestrated campaigns and time off over the winter at his owner’s Kansas farm to just enjoy being a horse.
“It helps to have good owners that allow you to do right by the horse,” said trainer Murray Johnson. “But, I have to give a lot of credit to the horse. He has the physical attributes that allow him to stay sound. We’ve learned what keeps him happy and he lets us know when he’s not happy. Right now we have a very happy horse.”
Since his first start in the Classic when he finished 12th after losing a shoe in 2002 at Arlington Park, Perfect Drift has gradually improved his finish. He was sixth in 2003 at Santa Anita Park and fourth last year at Lone Star Park.
“I wish we had a better record, but I guess you have a better chance each year,” said Johnson. “We’ve had some bad luck, but hopefully everything will check out right this time.”
Whether or not Perfect Drift can return next year to tie Kona Gold’s record of five starts in the Breeders’ Cup is yet to be determined. Right now his connections are just enjoying making the race for the fourth time and keeping their fingers crossed that this will finally be their year.