Perfect Drift, who shipped in from Kentucky on Monday, met the Del Mar track for the first time since last year by jogging and galloping with a pony over the strip Wednesday morning in preparation for Sunday's Pacific Classic (gr. I). The 6-year-old gelded son of Dynaformer finished second to Pleasantly Perfect in last year's Pacific Classic and has compiled career earnings of more than $3.4 million on a record of 11 wins, eight seconds and four thirds in 31 career starts. In his latest start, July 30, the big bay won the Washington Park Handicap (gr. II) at Arlington Park, setting a stakes and track record of 1:54.20 for 1 3/16 miles. Following the horse's jaunt around the track, trainer Murray Johnson said, "He's doing great. He's in great health, and he's coming off a terrific win. He shipped well, and everything seems good so far." Mark Guidry is scheduled to ride Perfect Drift Sunday.Quite aware that this year's field has no Pleasantly Perfect to face, Johnson nevertheless has respect for those coming to the race. "You know, someone always steps up in these races. Horses can turn around and run better races than before. But we think we have a great chance." It was a very happy Jerry Hollendorfer who praised Ace Blue for his sharp half-mile work in :472/5 Wednesday morning. "We were just blowing out for the race, and he did it really nicely," the trainer said. Choctaw Nation finished his serious work for the Pacific Classic Tuesday with a solid 1:00 4/5 five-furlong workout. The two-time San Diego Handicap (gr. II) champion posted splits of :24 2/5 for the first quarter, :36 2/5 for 3 furlongs and :48 3/5 for the half-mile, coming the final eighth in :12 1/5.
Victor Espinoza has the call for the Pacific Classic. Trainer Jeff Mullins says his 5-year-old son of Louis Quatorze has a big chance this year after finishing off the board in 2004. The trainer thinks Choctaw Nation will be flying for the final quarter mile."That is unless he gets bumped coming out of the gate like he did last year," Mullins said. "When that happened, he just took off and Victor had to fight him to get him to settle down."