Hollywood Gold Cup in Perfect Drift's Sight

(from Churchill track notes)
Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift, winner of last week's $750,000-added Stephen Foster (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, will most likely be heading to Hollywood Park for his next race.

The Arlington Million (gr. I) on the Arlington Park turf on Aug. 16 remains a major objective for the summer, but trainer Murray Johnson said Friday that Perfect Drift would likely make his next start in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) on July 13.

"Timing-wise the Gold Cup is good," said Johnson. "We just like the way it's unfolding."

Johnson said that Perfect Drift came out of his Stephen Foster win over the heavily favored Mineshaft in great shape. The 4-year-old Dynaformer gelding is getting some rest on Johnson's farm located south of Louisville in Bullitt County, Ky. Perfect Drift is expected to return to Johnson's barn in the Trackside Louisville (formerly Sports Spectrum) training center in the next few days.

"He's doing great out there," said Johnson. "We'll bring him back in probably on Sunday or Monday."

Next month's trip to Hollywood Park would be the longest in the career of the 4-year-old Dynaformer gelding who has spent most of his career running within an easy van ride from Johnson's barn. His only plane flight was a trip to New York for last year's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) -- a race his which he finished a mystifying 10th and was beaten more than 51 lengths.

"He went to the Belmont and didn't run good, but I don't blame the shipping," said Johnson. "It's time for him to start learning to do it and do it right. Hopefully it will all work out."

Johnson does not plan to give his stable star much of a chance to fall in love with the West Coast. If the Hollywood Gold Cup is indeed the choice for Perfect Drift's next race, the gelding should arrive on the scene with little time to spare.

"We'd only fly a day or two before," said Johnson. "It runs on Sunday. All I'd really want to do there is school (in the paddock) on Saturday. If we got in there Friday night it wouldn't worry me."

He also hopes that jockey Pat Day, who displayed his typical patience in the narrow victory in the Stephen Foster, would want to go along to stay in the saddle aboard Perfect Drift. But Johnson has not discussed the plan with Day or his agent, Doc Danner.

"Hopefully he feels the same way we do," Johnson said, "and we feel we've got the best horse."