Updated on 09/16/2011 7:03AM

Perfect Drift wins Spiral on wire

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Perfect Drift wins Saturday's $500,000 Lane's End Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.

FLORENCE, Ky. - Perfect Drift was up in the final strides Saturday to win a three-horse photo in the $500,000 , earning a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby and vindicating trainer Murray Johnson's decision to summon his longtime friend Eddie Delahoussaye from California to ride the colt.

Delahoussaye gave Perfect Drift a textbook ride from just off the pace and, true to his familiar style, used a vigorous hand ride to nail Azillion by a neck in Turfway Park's signature event. Request for Parole, the 2-1 favorite in a field of eight 3-year-olds, was just another nose back in third.

Gold Dollar finished another eight lengths back in fourth, followed by Straight Gin, Benny the Hawk, My Man Ryan, and the 2.30-1 second choice Saratoga Blues.

Perfect Drift, a homebred Dynaformer colt owned by Dr. William Reed of Kansas City, Mo., returned $10.20 as third choice. He finished the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:48.83 over a fast track.

Perfect Drift, based at the Trackside training facility in Louisville, either will train straight into the May 4 Kentucky Derby or have one more prep race, said Johnson. The colt had finished second to Request for Parole in his last two starts, both at Turfway.

Before a crowd of 19,076, Request for Parole, ridden by Pat Day, went to the lead in the 31st running of the Grade 2 Spiral, pressed closely by Saratoga Blues and Straight Gin. Perfect Drift was allowed to settle after breaking from the far outside post, "but it wasn't like I was 10 or 20 lengths out of it," said Delahoussaye. "He was comfortable."

With a quarter-mile left, Azillion, ridden by Mike Smith, moved smartly along the rail to take a short lead from Request for Parole, while Delahoussaye angled Perfect Drift out for the drive.

"Murray said he got to waiting on horses when he made the lead in his last race," said Delahoussaye. "So I tried to time it as best I could."

The victory was the richest in Johnson's training career. Johnson has known Delahoussaye since the late 1980's, when Johnson was an assistant to John Gosden, for whom Delahoussaye rode regularly. After Tony D'Amico had ridden Perfect Drift in the WEBN Frog and John Battaglia Stakes, Johnson called on Delahoussaye for the Spiral.

Although Delahoussaye was a dominant rider in Kentucky in the mid-1970's, this was his first time riding at Turfway.

Azillion, trained by Bob Hess Jr., was scheduled to return to California. Request for Parole, said trainer Steve Margolis, remains possible for the Derby.

"I'm thrilled with the way he ran," he said.