There are a number of reasons why Perfect Soul is up against it in Sunday's $333,300 Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes (Can-II) at Woodbine.
That's the way trainer Roger Attfield assesses the current state of affairs for the 6-year-old turf star Perfect Soul, a lifetime earner of $1,317,765, who has had to contend with a variety of issues leading up to one of the top turf events on the Canadian racing calendar.
"He missed the Connaught Cup Stakes because of a bruised foot and he missed the King Edward (Breeders' Cup) Stakes because of a cough," said Attfield, of the lifetime winner of eight races from 18 starts. "And now we're looking at a race that isn't his ideal distance (1 3/8 miles) and he has to give a pile of weight away." He gives three to nine pounds to his rival.s
The alternative would have been to ship Perfect Soul to Chicago where he would have been top weight for the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Saturday. Although it offered a more preferable route of distance, 1 ¼ miles, the hot weather that has hit most of eastern Canada and parts of the U.S. made the Toronto oval feature a wiser option.
But last year's Sovereign Award winner as Canada's Top Turf Male sports a glowing record on Woodbine's E.P. Taylor Turf Course – four wins and seven top-three finishes from eight starts – to make him a main contender.
"He's a class horse and I expect him to run very well," said Attfield, who saddled Perfect Soul to a second-place finish in last year's event. "He started out as a problem child and developed into a very classy professional."
And as far as the Hall of Fame conditioner's wish list goes, Attfield would love to see the turf listed as "firm" come Sunday. "It's interesting. He has a big, flat foot and runs with aluminum plates on. You'd think firm turf would not be to his liking. But he's run huge races on it. I certainly don't want to see it come up as soft."
Next on the list for Perfect Soul is a run in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) on Aug. 14, a race in which the Irish-bred, owned by Charles Fipke, finished fifth last year, just three-quarters of a length back of disqualified winner Storming Home.
Sam-Son Farm's Strut the Stage will make his first start since Sept. 28, a race he won in 2003, besting Perfect Soul by 1 ½ lengths.
The lifetime winner of nine races from 19 starts suffered a tibia injury that put him on the sidelines after the Sky Classic Stakes, a race that saw the son of Theatrical finish fourth.
"He's doing quite well, but unfortunately the prep for this race didn't fill," said trainer Mark Frostad. "He's a brave, little horse and he has a lot of heart."
A powerful field of eight also includes Mobil, who is on top of his game for trainer Mike Keogh,Shoal Water and old favorites Cetewayo, Bowman Mill and Slew Valley.$333,3000 Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes (Can-II), 3 & up, 1 3/8 miles on turf
1/Mobil/Jono Jones/Mike Keogh/121
2/Strut the Stage/Todd Kabel/Mark Frostad/121
3/Perfect Soul/Robert Landry/Roger Attfield/124
4/Control Tower/Emile Ramsammy/Malcolm Pierce/115
5/Shoal Water/Todd Kabel/Mark Frostad/115
6/Cetewayo/ Brice Blanc/Michael Dickinson/115
7/Bowman Mill/Patrick Husbands/Michael Dickinson/119
8/Slew Valley/Jim McAleney/Reade Baker/119