04/09/2004 12:00AM

Perfect Soul wins in record time

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Bill Straus/Keeneland
Perfect Soul (outside) wins the $200,000 Maker's Mark Mile by a half-length at Keeneland on Friday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Perfect Soul goes with Keeneland like a smooth sip of Kentucky bourbon. So it was appropriate that Perfect Soul ran his record to 3 for 3 at this track on Friday, with a late-running victory in the $200,000 Maker's Mark Mile.

A crowd of 21,737, a record for a Friday at Keeneland, turned out for the Good Friday card and was treated to a thrilling Grade 2 stakes race. Perfect Soul, making his first start since last fall's Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita, came flying down the center of the turf course to catch Burning Roma and Royal Spy in the final yards.

Perfect Soul ($8.80) won by a half-length, with Burning Roma a head in front of third-place Royal Spy. Stroll, the 3-1 favorite, finished fifth. Honor in War was fourth, Millennium Dragon sixth, and Perfect Drift eighth in the field of 10.

The final time of 1:33.54 was a Keeneland turf course record.

Perfect Soul was a powerful winner of a third-level allowance race here in his 2003 debut, and last fall he captured the Grade 1 Keeneland Turf Mile. His trainer, Roger Attfield, said he thought Perfect Soul was ready for a top effort, but he was concerned the dry, firm turf was not ideal for Perfect Soul, who races with special, protective shoes on his front hooves.

"I was concerned the turf might be firm for him," Attfield said. "Those shoes aren't bar shoes. They're spider shoes. They support his frogs. I'm always concerned when I run him on really firm turf, but I thought I had him right."

Perfect Soul, a 6-year-old by Sadler's Wells, was bred and is owned by Charles Fipke. He has now won seven times in 16 starts, and has earned more than $1.26 million.

Edgar Prado rode Perfect Soul. It was the 18th stakes win at Keeneland for Prado since the spring of 2001, tying him in that category with Pat Day.

Attfield said Perfect Soul would likely make his next start in "the other bourbon race," referring to the Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs on May 1, Kentucky Derby Day.

"I'm a scotch drinker," Attfield said, "but I'm beginning to like bourbon now."

- additional reporting by Marty McGee