Trainer Murray Johnson's late-running bay should appreciate softer company than he's been facing in the norm. And he'll have plenty of pace to shoot at with speed types such as Wanderin Boy, Jonesboro and the undefeated Half Ours in the line-up for the 1 1/16-mile Alysheba.
Perfect Drift wears blinkers for the second time Friday. Johnson used shades in Perfect Drift's last start, resulting in a second-place finish against allowance foes at Keeneland in a race moved from the grass to the all-weather track on April 14. That was the first trip to the post for the son of Dynaformer since he ran eighth at odds of 34-1 in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. Perfect Drift has but one win in 10 tries on the Churchill main track, but has been in the money in all but one of those efforts. Garrett Gomez is aboard Perfect Drift for the third successive race.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the lightly raced Half Ours -- a winner of all five of his starts in a career that began in April 2005 -- would be racing two turns for the first time. The gray 4-year-old by Unbridled's Song won the seven-furlong Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park in his start, which was his graded stakes debut for owners Marie and Aaron Jones on March 3. Regular rider John Velazquez is aboard.
Arthur Hancock's Wanderin Boy returns to action for trainer Nick Zito for the first time since weakening to finish sixth in the Clark Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Nov. 24, more than 10 lengths behind the victorious Premium Tap. Prior to that Wanderin Boy won Belmont Park's Brooklyn Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) and ran second to Bernardini in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I). Corey Nakatani takes over on the 6-year-old son of Seeking the Gold, the 124-pound high weight.
Both Half Ours and Wanderin Boy are entered in Saturday's Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II) at seven furlongs.
Also in the Alysheba is Brother Bobby, coming off a second-place showing at 39-1 when four lengths behind Lawyer Ron in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) April 7 for trainer Grant Forster. Two others exit that race as well -- Jonesboro finished fourth and Smokeyjonessutton was sixth.
$100,000 Alysheba Stakes (gr. III, Race 4, 12:43 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Perfect Drift (KY), 118, Garrett K. Gomez
2. Wanderin Boy (KY), 124, Corey S. Nakatani
3. Summer Book (FL), 118, Mark Guidry
4. Brother Bobby (KY), 118, Stewart Elliott
5. Student Council (KY), 120, Robby Albarado
6. Half Ours (KY), 118, John R. Velazquez
7. Jonesboro (KY), 122, Calvin H. Borel
8. Smokeyjonessutton (KY), 118, Julien R. Leparoux