07/28/2010 7:18PM

Perfect Shirl best in Lake George

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Perfect Shirl and John Velazquez capture the Lake George at Saratoga by three-quarters of a length.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The gate problems that plagued Perfect Shirl early in her career are a thing of the past, and the 3-year-old filly is now able to show off her true talent.

Wednesday at Saratoga, Perfect Shirl showed she was talented enough to win a Grade 2 stakes, receiving an excellent ride from John Velazquez en route to a three-quarter-length victory over Exclusive Love in the $150,000 Lake George Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. It was another three-quarters of a length back to No Explaining in third. Perfect Shirl ($20.60) topped an all Woodbine-based trifecta that returned $6,103.

The first- and third-place finishers are trained by Roger Attfield. Earlier this year, Attfield finished first and third in the Grade 2 New York Stakes at Belmont Park with Lady Shakespeare - an older half sister to Perfect Shirl - and Ave.

Perfect Shirl, a daughter of Perfect Soul, became the latest foal out of the mare Lady Shirl to become a stakes winner. She joins Shakespeare, Fantastic Shirl, and Lady Shakespeare.

Charles Fipke, who owns Perfect Shirl, still owns the mare, Attfield said.

Attfield felt all along Perfect Shirl was a stakes-caliber filly, but noted she was her own worst enemy at the gate. In her last three starts, Perfect Shirl broke well and won them all.

In fact, Velazquez, who was riding Perfect Shirl for the first time, noted the break in describing his trip, in which he settled into sixth position early, rallied four wide on the turn and struck the front just inside the eighth pole.

"It was like one of those dream trips. You break good, you put your hands down - she settled really, really well," Velazquez said.

"At the half-mile pole I got my position. I held it and when I asked her to do something at the quarter pole she was there. I was hoping that I wasn't moving too soon, but she was good enough."

Perfect Shirl covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.26 over a firm inner turf course.

"We were having a lot of problems with her at the gate," Attfield said. "The last three times now she's been fine there and she's able to show her ability," said Attfield, who watched the race from Canada.

Attfield noted that his other runner, No Explaining, ran well despite encountering some traffic trouble in the race.

Attfield said both fillies would likely come back to run in the Grade 2, $150,000 Lake Placid here on Aug. 22.