Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift, winner of the 2003 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) and third to Colonial Colony in this year's renewal, is recovering from throat surgery to correct an entrapped epiglottis. The 5-year-old Dynaformer gelding underwent the procedure on Tuesday at Lexington's Hagyard-Davidson-McGee equine clinic, where Dr. Robert Hunt performed the surgery. Trainer Murray Johnson said the surgery went well and that Perfect Drift is back in his stall at Trackside Louisville. "That explains a little bit why he ran the way he did," said Johnson. "We think everything should work out real good."Perfect Drift launched a bid on the far turn of the Stephen Foster and was engaged in a four-way battle for the lead with pacesetter Peace Rules, eventual runner-up Southern Image and Colonial Colony at the head of the stretch. But Perfect Drift and jockey Pat Day could not sustain the rally and finished third, five lengths behind Colonial Colony and Southern Image, who finished a nose apart."He probably wasn't getting his air 100% and its tough to run with those horses when you're not," said Johnson. "Hopefully we'll get that rectified and we'll be back with the big boys."The problem was discovered in a post-race examination, but Johnson said Perfect Drift had displayed no outward sign of distress during the race other than he did not offer his usual strong finish."There was no noise or anything like that," said Johnson. "It may have affected him on previous occasions, but, if all goes well it won't affect him in the future."
The overall surgery performed by Dr. Hunt was described as "minor" by Johnson, who said that Perfect Drift should return to training by Saturday or Sunday."He really didn't have to do much," said Johnson. "His airway was really good and everything was working good. It was just a little minor thing, but it was a major thing at the eighth pole."Perfect Drift's loss in the Stephen Foster was his fourth consecutive setback and it dropped his career record to 9-4-2 in 21 races. He earned $81,075 with his third place finish in Saturday's Foster renewal