07/01/2004 12:00AM

Perfect Drift tries to get back on track

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ALTOONA, Iowa - Last year, Perfect Drift won four graded stakes and earned more than $1.5 million. This year, Perfect Drift has yet to win a race. He will try to remedy that Saturday in the Grade 3, $300,000 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Prairie Meadows.

A 1 1/8-mile race, the Cornhusker shares Saturday's 10-race card with the $125,000 Iowa Distaff Breeders' Cup. Saturday is day three of the four-day Iowa Festival of Racing, which features two stakes per day worth a total of over $1.1 million.

, a 5-year-old gelded son of Dynaformer who has over $2.3 million in career earnings, is the 119-pound highweight in the Cornhusker, conceding two to seven pounds to his five rivals.

In his most recent start, Perfect Drift finished third as the defending champion in the Grade 1, $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill over a sloppy track on June 12.

Perfect Drift's trainer, Murray Johnson, had him scoped following the Foster, and it was discovered that Perfect Drift had displaced his soft palate. Three days later Perfect Drift underwent a myectomy, a minor surgical procedure, to correct the breathing problem.

Perfect Drift returned to the track Saturday and recorded a four-furlong workout in 48.20 seconds over the Churchill Downs training track.

"He went well," said Johnson. "He's a good work horse and he scoped clean afterward. The vet couldn't get him to displace, which is a good sign."

Johnson says he is hoping Perfect Drift can win the Cornhusker and then go on to bigger things.

"This is a good spot," said Johnson. "The competition is a little softer than what he has been facing. We're looking to get him back to where he was last year. If we can get a win Saturday we may try a Grade 1 next. If not, we may look for an allowance race."

Perfect Drift's regular rider Pat Day will be in from Kentucky for the mount.

Roses in May, who is improving rapidly, is a gate-to-wire threat Saturday for trainer Dale Romans. Roses in May has scored open-lengths victories against allowance company in his only two starts of the year. In his most recent start, on May 21, he led throughout in a three-other-than allowance at Churchill, winning the 1 1/16-mile race by five lengths.

Mark Guidry will ride Roses in May, a 4-year-old son of Devil His Due who has won 4 of his 7 career starts. The pair gets in light at 112 pounds.

Multiple stakes winners Crafty Shaw and Sonic West are both contenders in the Cornhusker.

Crafty Shaw who has won 15 of 39 career starts and $984,440 in earnings, enters the Cornhusker off a 1 1/4-length win in the Grade 3 Hanshin Handicap at Arlington Park on May 29. Craig Perret has a return call aboard Crafty Shaw, a 6-year-old trained by Pete Vestal. Crafty Shaw will carry 117 pounds.

Sonic West is a stretch-running 5-year-old son of West by West who has scored two stakes victories in 2004, including the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn in March.

Willie Martinez, the rider in all four of Sonic West's starts this year, will be in from Kentucky for the mount at 115 pounds.