01/31/2002 1:00AM

Perfect Drift gets big test in the Frog


Even though a race called the WEBN Frog Stakes will never be confused with a top Kentucky Derby prep such as, say, the Florida Derby or Blue Grass Stakes, "the Frog," named for a Cincinnati sports-radio station, still will determine where trainer Murray Johnson will head next with the promising 3-year-old colt Perfect Drift.

The $50,000 WEBN Frog Stakes, formerly known as the Presidents Stakes, will be the first two-turn attempt for Perfect Drift, who has been highly impressive in winning his last two starts at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. The one-mile Frog highlights a 12-race program Saturday at Turfway.

"He should get a pretty good test from Request for Parole," said Johnson, who trains Perfect Drift for the Dynaformer colt's breeder, Dr. William Reed.

Request for Parole, trained by longtime former Stan Hough assistant Steve Margolis, has earned nearly $200,000 by finishing third or better in six of seven career starts. Among the colts he has faced are Siphonic, Repent, and Harlan's Holiday.

"Running against Request for Parole should give us a good idea about where we're headed," said Johnson.

"He's a really nice horse. He's run with the right horses, even though he hasn't run for a while," having last finished second to Repent in the Nov. 24 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Nevertheless, Perfect Drift probably will be a solid favorite after having drawn the rail in a full field of 12 3-year-olds. The colt won by four lengths in the Jan. 5 Turfway Prevue at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"He came from off the pace very easily last time," said Johnson, based at Trackside in Louisville. "I'm expecting him to handle the two turns the way he's handled everything we've asked so far."

Tony D'Amico, the regular rider for Repent and Harlan's Holiday, will return to Turfway from south Florida to ride Perfect Drift. Brian Peck, who last Saturday won five races, will ride Request for Parole.

The WEBN Frog is followed on Turfway's Kentucky Derby trail by the March 2 John Battaglia Memorial and the signature race of the meet, the $500,000 Lane's End Spiral Stakes on March 23. Johnson said he hopes to stay on the Turfway trail with Perfect Drift.

- Ralph Borgemenke, who was a jockey and familiar face at Turfway and River Downs for many years, died Tuesday. He was 64.

- First post on Sunday at Turfway is noon Eastern in order to accommodate Super Bowl fans.

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