Perfect Drift Dusts Foes in Washingon Park

(from track report)
Stonecrest Farm's homebred Perfect Drift burst from the pack in mid-stretch for an impressive five-length victory in the $400,000 Washington Park Handicap (gr. II) on Saturday at Arlington Park.

Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day picked up his fifth Washington Park win aboard the Murray Johnson-trained son of Dynaformer. The winner, who solidifield his standing as one of the leading handicap contenders in the nation, covered the 1 3/16-mile test over a fast track in 1:55.49. The 3-5 favorite returned $3.20, $2.80 and $2.10.

Content to remain off the pace, Day began to move Perfect Drift up on the final turn and was right on the neck of frontrunning Iron Deputy as the field of five turned for home.

"We were breathing down the leader's throat around the turn in hand," Day said. "When (Aeneas) mounted a challenge on the outside, I smooched a little. He responded gamely and was drawing off at the wire. He had his ears pricked at the time and was still well within himself."

The Washington Park was the second straight graded stakes score for Perfect Drift, who won the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs last month by a head over Mineshaft. Perfect Drift earned $240,000 to boost his bankroll to $1,549,868 while extending his record to seven wins, three seconds and a third from 14 starts. Johnson indicated the Arlington Million (gr. IT), to be run on Aug. 16, would likely be the next start for the 4-year-old gelding.

"The Arlington Million has been one of our goals," said Johnson. "(Dynaformer) is a versatile sire and affords us the chance to use different races to get him where we want."

Aeneas rallied from last at the top of the lane to run second, 1 1/4 length clear of Flatter, who battled Iron Deputy for the lead into the stretch before tiring. Aeneas paid $9.40 and $2.80. Flatter paid $2.40.

"Marty (trainer Wolfson) and I discussed the strategy before the race," said jockey Gary Boulanger, who rode Aeneas. "We figured there was a lot of speed in there and we'd just come on the outside late. Even that didn't work. (Perfect Drift) was just too much. We were just second best. We weren't going to beat that horse if we'd run around there three times."

"He raced wonderful," said jockey Craig Perret of Flatter. "He gave me his best run. He showed a lot of courage. He was off nine months and only went 7 1/2 (furlongs) in his first out and we were asking him to go a mile and three-sixteenths. He showed he belongs with these."

Iron Deputy finished fourth after leading through three-quarters of a mile in a quick 1:10.93. Phantom Light completed the order of finish.

(Chart, Equibase)