Sold by Denali to Mike Ryan, Perfect Officer needed every inch of the short Keeneland stretch to run down pacesetter Great Mills, as the son of Officer won by a nose in the most exciting finish of the $100,000 Shakertown (gr. IIIT).
Graded stakes-placed in his last three starts, Perfect Officer finally broke through under Javier Castellano in the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint. The bay gelding is owned by David A. Ross Racing Stable and was making his first start for Tony Dutrow.
Perfect Officer covered the distance on the firm turf in 1:01.53, which was a new course record.
Great Mills has had tough luck at Keeneland, as he also finished second by a nose in the Transylvania (gr. IIIT) last spring. With Julien Leparoux aboard, the War Front colt was three lengths in front of third place finisher Zeb. Havelock was fourth in a field of 10.
Perfect Officer was bred in Kentucky by Justice Farm, Greg Justice, and Steve Justice, and is out of the Perfect Vision mare Perfect Tradition. Denali sold Perfect Officer for $110,000 at the Fasig-Tipton July sale to Mike Ryan, agent. This was his eighth victory in 28 starts but his first graded stakes triumph. He has now earned $515,531. “Wonderful. It’s hard to express in words," Ross said. "..he’s just continued to impress us throughout the year. He was training extremely well in Florida, and Tony did a wonderful job getting the horse ready to run today.”
Great Mills was determined to make the lead on the salty field from the start, and he outfought Concorde's Flight, Chamberlain Bridge, and Great Attack for the lead going into the turn. He cut the corner with a clear advantage over Great Attack and looked to be on his way to victory. But Perfect Officer, sixth in the early going but within striking distance entering the stretch, was charging at the leader from the outside and finally reached him in the final jump.
“He gave me a really good trip," Castellano said. "I’m really proud of him. He gave me a good run. It was kinda tight on the backside. I took my time, and I go from there. He gave me a great run the last part. I saw the horse (Great Mills) started backing up a little bit, and I had plenty of horse, and when I asked he responded so well today.”