Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift, with Pat Day in the irons, handled favored Congaree with surprising ease in Saturday's $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) at Turfway Park.
Perfect Drift now boasts wins over two of the leading candidates for the Oct. 25 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita. He beat Mineshaft in the Stephen Foster (gr. I) on June 14. But the 4-year-old Dynaformer gelding is not being aimed at the Classic by trainer Murray Johnson.
He turned back a determined Congaree, the 1-2 public choice, in the stretch by a length. The final time for 1 1/8 mile on a fast track was 1:50 2/5. Crafty Shaw finished third, five lengths behind Perfect Drift.
Congaree carried top weight of 124 pounds, four more than Perfect Drift.
Although Congaree showed rating ability in taking a pair of recent grade I races, jockey Edgar Prado sent him go to the front while outside of Crafty Shaw even after he bobbled at the start. Congaree went :24 1/4, : 48 1/5 and 1:11 4/5 to put away Crafty Shaw on the final turn. But Perfect Drift moved up while three wide on the turn and continued to challenge Congaree's lead over the final three furlongs.
Without urging, Perfect Drift got to the lead with a little more than a furlong left and took control while ridden a bit in the closing stages, finishing up while easing slightly.
"This is a really nice racehorse," said Day. "Murray has done an excellent job os placing him. I didn't want to make the lead until as late as possible."
Asked about the Breeders' Cup, Day answered, "He'd be competitive, but I'm paid to ride him, not to place him."
Perfect Drift was eighth in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) in his most recent start Aug. 16. He won his fourth race of the year in six tries and his eighth overall in 16 career outings. He earned $221,500 for the victory and now has a career total of $1,771,368.
Sent off as the 7-5 second choice in the field of five, the winner paid $4.80 and $2.10. Congaree returned $2.10. There was no show wagering.