Perfect Drift Puts Away Tenpins at Hawthorne

(from Hawthorne report)
Perfect Drift edged away from Tenpins in the stretch to win Sunday's $750,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) on opening day at the Illinois track, but his trainer remained doubtful about a run in the Breeders's Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.

"I'll have to talk to the Reeds (owners William and Mary Reed) about going to the Breeders' Cup Classic but it's doubtful," trainer Murray Johnson said. "We've achieved what we set out to do. Now we just have to sit back and see what we want to do next. I'm not sure that we want to send him to the hard tracks in California."

Guided by regular rider Pat Day, Perfect Drift rated close to the early pace in the Gold Cup set by Tenpins. Following Tenpins lead through a quarter in :24.50 and a half in :49.64, Day decided to make his move as he urged Perfect Drift to head to the front.

Ranging up to head Tenpins at the top of the stretch, a head-and-head battle ensued between the two with Aeneas ranging up to their outside. Under a slight push from Day, though, Perfect Drift took over with a sixteenth of a mile to go and cruised under the wire with a 1 ¾-length triumph in a final time of 2:03.63. Tenpins held well for second by a half-length over Aeneas.

Johnson was extremely impressed, "I really wasn't worried early when Tenpins grabbed the lead, not in :49 and change. It was a wonder that he wasn't on the lead. He seems to be able to relax more now and settle off slower and slower paces. He can go on with it."

"In his last couple of races he's been very matter of fact and professional. He's like a stick of dynamite. He's not a deadhead. He's a very live horse but when it comes to conserving his energy, leading up to the race and in his training, he simply doesn't waste any. Before the race he's almost asleep. In the paddock he's much the same way. To have that much energy there and be able to contain it is very unusual."

Day echoed Johnson's thoughts, "Perfect Drift kind of lived up to his name today, just perfect. He warmed up good, enthusiastic, bright of eye. He stalked Tenpins all the way down the backstretch and on the turn. I felt very comfortable, very confident at all times. Aeneas, on the outside, made a little challenge but with just mild encouragement Drift just drew away. It was a fun ride. He's a great horse, nice mind and big engine and he gives it to you when called upon.

"He had a history of waiting on other horses when he made the lead but he hasn't done that in his last couple of races. I'm pleased that he's coming in that direction and doing that for us."

Perfect Drift returned $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10, keying a large minus show pool. Of the $631,265 wagered to show in the race, $585,753 was wagered on Perfect Drift to show, causing a minus pool of $133,607. Tenpins returned $2.10 and $2.10, while Aeneas also returned $2.10 to show.

With the victory, Perfect Drift has won nine of 17 career starts and the $450,000 winner's share boosted his career earnings to $2,221,368.

(Chart, Equibase)