Even-money choice Majesticperfection blew away a quality field in the $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. I) (VIDEO), going gate to wire in a fast time at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 8.
Padua Stables' 4-year-old son of Harlan's Holiday won his fifth straight race and scored his first graded stakes victory by 2 3/4 lengths over a field that included top sprinters Big Drama, Bribon, and Gayego, who finished in that order while no match for the winner.
Racing on a track that is playing slow, Majesticperfection ran the six furlongs in 1:08.63 for jockey Shaun Bridgmohan. The clocking was slightly off the track mark of 1:08 flat set by Spanish Riddle in 1972 and matched by Speightstown in 2004.
Steve Asmussen trains Majesticperfection, whose only blemish in a six-race career came in a third-place finish in his debut on a muddy track at Fair Grounds Jan. 24.
In his last start June 25 at Prairie Meadows, Majesticperfection earned a 117 Beyer Speed Figure while shattering the track record for six furlongs in 1:07 1/5, winning the Iowa Sprint Handicap by nearly five lengths.
"He’s been very fast, he’s a very good horse, and I’m very proud he ran this race on this level," Asmussen said. "We could all read how well he’d run in the other spots, but for him to bring it up against this level of competition, it puts him exactly where we want him to be.
"He was away very cleanly today and you could tell Shaun was very comfortable. He had his chance to show who he is, and he got it done. I think he beat a very good group, but we’ve got to reproduce that performance again."
Asmussen's ultimate goal for Majesticperfection is the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs. He said he will take a look at the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) Oct. 2 at Belmont Park.
Breaking from post 5, Majesticperfection shot out of the gate to open a 1 1/2-length lead over Big Drama and Mambo Meister before settling into easy fractions of :22.80 and :45.60 while racing well off the rail.
Majesticperfection dictated terms around the bend and opened up in the lane when asked for a response as Big Drama and Bribon, rallying from last, drew closer off the turn.
Majesticperfection led by three lengths at the eighth pole and came home comfortably in front under a strong hand ride from Bridgmohan.
"He broke really smart and sharp, and he really made my job a lot easier," Bridgmohan said. "He’s a pretty quick horse and really professional. Once he got there, he felt really comfortable and we got away with some nice fractions. I knew before the Prairie Meadows race that he was the real deal. I’ve known it since the first time I rode him.”
Second choice Big Drama, who was knocked sideways after bumping with Temecula Creek at the start, chased the winner into the stretch but could not match strides. Ridden by Eibar Coa, Big Drama outfought Bribon and Garrett Gomez for the place spot by a half-length. Bribon, who launched a five-wide bid on the turn, finished 2 1/2 lengths clear of Gayego, who could not take advantage of a ground-saving trip and flattened out in fourth.
David Fawkes, trainer of Big Drama, said Majesticperfection had a perfect set-up as the lone speed. "We just happened to chase the winner," he said. "I thought my horse ran a huge race by holding off Todd's horse (Bribon). He dug in and fought him off."
Temecula Creek was nosed for fourth and was followed home by Mambo Meister and Smokey Fire.
Majesticperfection carried 116 pounds and paid $4, $2.80, and $2.50. Big Drama paid $3.70 and $2.90 and Bribon returned $2.60 to show. Big Drama, Bribon and Gayego each carried 120 pounds.
The winner, a $370,000 Ocala Breeder Sales Co. purchase as a 2-year-old in April 2008, was bred in Kentucky by Ronald G. McPeek and Shane Floyd. The bay colt is out of Act So Noble, by Wavering Monarch.