Updated on 09/16/2011 9:25AM

BC Countdown - Classic: Pleasantly Perfect timing


ARCADIA, Calif. - It took about 18 months longer than originally hoped for Pleasantly Perfect to find his best form, but his timing may be ideal.

In a year when there are concerns about the ability of several of the leading contenders for the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic to handle 1 1/4 miles, or even their ability to hold form at the end of a long campaign, Pleasantly Perfect is peaking at just the right time.

The lightly raced 4-year-old Pleasantly Perfect earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 116 for his victory in Sunday's Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, and he acts as though the farther he runs, the better he will like it. "This is what he likes to do," said his trainer, Richard Mandella.

Pleasantly Perfect is seemingly from another era, before 2-year-olds were given fast works in order to sell well at auction, before an emphasis on raw speed in pedigrees caused buyers to seek precocity over stamina. He is an imposing son of Pleasant Colony. One look at him, and you know he was not cut out to win the Hollywood Juvenile Championship. And though Mandella and owner Gerald Ford bought Pleasantly Perfect with the idea of trying to win the Kentucky Derby, they allowed the colt to develop at his own pace, never pushing him.

"He was the best-looking Pleasant Colony I've ever seen," said Mandella, who advised Ford on the purchase of Pleasantly Perfect as a yearling for $725,000. "He's big and strong. We didn't intend to give him this much time, but as a 2-year-old he had a virus that landed in his heart, and it became inflamed. We had to turn him out and leave him alone. Otherwise, we wouldn't have waited so long. We actually bought him to try to win the Derby."

Pleasantly Perfect didn't even get to the races until 26 days after the 2001 Kentucky Derby. And he ran so poorly that day that he was given another lengthy rest. "He didn't even finish the race. He was sick coming out of it," Mandella said. "But he's been fine ever since he's come back."

Pleasantly Perfect earned a maiden win in his third start this year. After adding blinkers, he won two allowance races in his next three starts, which gave Mandella the confidence to run him in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar in his stakes debut.

"I wouldn't have put him in that kind of race unless

I thought he could handle it," Mandella said.

Pleasantly Perfect ran fourth, beaten less than three lengths by Came Home. And he followed that up with his victory in the Goodwood, in which he earned the highest Beyer figure of his career.

"We've never tried to speed him up or make him quick. You just let him fall out of there and make his own way," Mandella said. "He was a slow learner his first few races, but now he's got it going."

Mandella said he would ship Pleasantly Perfect, and the 2-year-old colt Listen Indy, to Arlington about one week before the Breeders' Cup.

In other Classic developments:

- It appears certain that more than the maximum of 14 horses will be pre-entered in the race next Tuesday; the pre-entries are not announced until Thursday. If so, seven horses will get into the race based on points earned in graded stakes races, and the next seven will be chosen by an international panel. The remaining horses will be put on an also-eligible list, in order of the panel's preference, but can get into the race only should someone in the main body of the race defect by the time final entries are taken and post positions drawn on Oct. 23. There is no also-eligible list after post positions are drawn.

- War Emblem's seven-furlong work in 1:24 last weekend at Santa Anita drew rave reviews from private clockers. But Bob Baffert, War Emblem's trainer, was dazzled by Pleasantly Perfect's race in the Goodwood. "I told Mandella the Breeders' Cup was looking good for me until that race," Baffert said.

- Most of the horses based at Belmont Park are not flying to Chicago until a few days before the Breeders' Cup. Trainer Patrick Kelly wants to get Evening Attire there next Tuesday or Wednesday. Since there is no flight scheduled then, he is going to send the Jockey Club Gold Cup winner by van.

- Murray Johnson, the trainer of Perfect Drift, said the Classic is under consideration for the Indiana Derby winner. "We're tossing it around," Johnson said Wednesday. But Johnson realizes Perfect Drift's participation would be in the hands of the selection panel if the field, as expected, is oversubscribed.