10/26/2004 11:00PM

Classic lives up to name

Roses in May, undefeated in five starts this year, gallops at Lone Star on Wednesday morning.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Pleasantly Perfect is here from California. Roses in May traveled from Kentucky. Ghostzapper flew in from New York. They are the three top choices for Saturday's $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park, and they drew their geographic equivalents on Wednesday morning when post positions were determined for the 1 1/4-mile race.

Ghostzapper will start from the rail, Roses in May is in the middle of the field, and Pleasantly Perfect will start near the outside in a field of 13 that also includes such nationally known stars as Azeri, Birdstone, and Funny Cide.

This could be the best Breeders' Cup Classic ever. It is in terms of quality, and it is in terms of importance. Any of the six aforementioned runners can capture Horse of the Year with a victory in the Classic.

Post positions and final fields were determined for all eight races on Wednesday morning at Lone Star Park. The draw took place 30 minutes after a slew of opening remarks from track and Breeders' Cup officials, and included an excruciatingly long recital of products from an automotive representative that elicited a Bronx cheer when he finally finished.

The decision to run Azeri in the Classic instead of the Distaff had been made on Tuesday, so the only remaining decision to be made in the other races was with the turf filly Ouija Board. Her connections decided to stick with her own kind and go in the Filly and Mare Turf rather than against males in the Turf.

Final supplemental fees also were due Wednesday. Three races - the Mile, Sprint, and Filly and Mare Turf - had horses who were supplemented, so those races are above their base purse amounts. All told, 92 horses will be competing for $15.15 million in purses. The 92 final entries are equal to 2002, and one more than last year.

The Classic will be the last of the eight Breeders' Cup races. Pleasantly Perfect is the defending champion in the Classic, having won it last year at Santa Anita. Based on that and subsequent victories in the Dubai World Cup and Pacific Classic, he is the 5-2 favorite on the morning line set by Rick Lee of Lone Star Park. With a long run of more than a quarter-mile to the first turn, the late-running Pleasantly Perfect should have no trouble getting a desirable position from post 12, according to his trainer, Richard Mandella.

"There's a couple of horses who want the lead. It'll sort itself out before they get to the first turn," Mandella said. "I wasn't really concerned about the post. He'll ease back in the early going and settle off the first flight of runners anyway. My only concern is that my good luck didn't run out."

Mandella won a record four races at last year's Breeders' Cup.

Roses in May, who has won all five of his starts this year, got an ideal spot with post 6, according to his trainer, Dale Romans.

"I'm very happy. It's a perfect spot for him," Romans said. "We can make some decisions from there. We have choices. Any time you are in the middle, you are in good shape."

Roses in May has sharp speed. But most of the race's other serious speed is to his inside, with Ghostzapper on the rail and Azeri in post 3. So, jockey John Velazquez can go on if the pace is slow, or rate if either of the other two are intent on the lead.

D. Wayne Lukas was gratified Azeri wound up with a post toward the inside of the field. When her post was picked, the other remaining slots in the random draw were 10, 11, and 13.

Azeri is 15-1 on the morning line. She would have been a heavy favorite in the Distaff.

"People that are afraid to lose never enjoy life," Lukas told a group of reporters. "She doesn't have to do anything to establish that she's great. If she loses, it'll give you guys something to write about, but there's no bloom off the rose."

Azeri's addition to the race meant trainer Murray Johnson had to go to his backup plan and put Kent Desormeaux on Perfect Drift, since regular rider Pat Day opted to stick with Azeri.

"We came to expect it in the end," Johnson said. "We knew it was a possibility." Azeri's addition to the race "doesn't hurt," Johnson said.

"She'll definitely keep the ones in front honest, and she'll put pressure on them earlier than we want to," Johnson said.

Funny Cide, who last year won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and most recently won the Jockey Club Gold Cup, is in post 9.

"I think the post is terrific. It's the same post he drew for the Preakness," said Robin Smullen, who is Funny Cide's exercise rider and trainer Barclay Tagg's assistant and partner. "With any luck, he'll sit right off the speed."

Dynever is on the far outside, but that should not concern him, because he tends to drop back and make a late run.

Birdstone is in the middle in post 7. Just to his outside is the Japanese colt Personal Rush, who got extremely hot and sweaty before working five furlongs in 1:01.60 on Wednesday morning.

It was warm and humid Wednesday, and that weather is expected to continue the rest of the week. The National Weather Service was calling for a high temperature in the low 80's, with the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms through Friday. Saturday's forecast is for a high of 79 degrees and a possibility of showers.

The field

Breeders' Cup Classic
Purse: $4 million; 1 1/4 miles; Grade 1

1GhostzapperJ. Castellano1267-2
2FreefourinternetG. Kuntzweiler12650-1
3AzeriP. Day12312-1
4Perfect DriftK. Desormeaux12612-1
5FantasticatG. Melancon12150-1
6Roses in MayJ. Velazquez1266-1
7BirdstoneE. Prado1216-1
8Personal RushF. Dettori12150-1
9Funny CideJ. Santos1268-1
10NewfoundlandE. Coa12615-1
11Bowman's BandC. Velasquez12650-1
12Pleasantly PerfectJ. Bailey1263-1
13DyneverC. Nakatani12610-1

* Odds by Mike Watchmaker
* Television: Saturday, 1-6 p.m. (Eastern), NBC

Classic (Grade 1) 1 1/4 miles Purse: $4,000,000

1GhostzapperR. FrankelIt could be he is simply the best horse here7-2
6Roses in MayD. RomansIf he duplicates his Whitney, he'll be a handful6-1
12Pleasantly PerfectR. MandellaWon this last year, but not off a 69-day layoff3-1
13DyneverC. ClementHas a chance to be the underlay of this race10-1
9Funny CideB. TaggI'll give him this, he has heart, and a lot of it8-1
7BirdstoneN. ZitoTravers winner has had 63 days to get ready6-1
10NewfoundlandT. PletcherClose to Funny Cide, nowhere vs. top pick15-1
4Perfect DriftM. JohnsonYou have to wonder if he will ever win again12-1
3AzeriD. W. LukasWho besides the owner thinks she can win?12-1
5FantasticatB. BarnettHuge difference between Super Derby and this50-1
2FreefourinternetM. MakerBeat Perfect Drift in last; everyone does that50-1
11Bowman's BandH. A. JerkensWinless this year; owner picked a nice spot50-1
8Personal RushK. YamauchiPerforms in minors in Japan; overmatched50-1

- Listed purses do not include supplemental fees
- Odds and commentary by Mike Watchmaker.