06/12/2002 12:00AM

Physical may tell why Perfect Drift ran badly

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Perfect Drift, who ran abysmally last Saturday in the Belmont Stakes when he finished 10th of 11 starters, was sent to the Lexington equine clinic Hagyard-Davidson-McGee on Wednesday for a thorough examination, trainer Murray Johnson said.

"We sent him out to have a bone scan done," Johnson said. "When he came back, he was very bright, acted like he hadn't run a race. We checked him out and didn't come up with a pimple, so just to make sure, we're sending him to the clinic."

Johnson said that even if Perfect Drift checks out fine, "he'll get the normal 10 days to two weeks on the farm. We're not really up against a timetable any more. We'll bring him back at his own pace, and we'll have plenty of options."

Johnson has said that he is eager to try grass racing with Perfect Drift, a Dynaformer gelding bred and owned by Dr. William Reed. "There'll be a race for him every Saturday or Sunday, turf or dirt," Johnson said.

War Emblem, Habibti get vacations

War Emblem, whose Triple Crown bid was denied by an eighth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, will be flown Sunday to California on a charter, trainer Bob Baffert said.

"He's tired," Baffert said. "He's been laying down a lot, that son of a gun. He'll get some time off before we even think about where we'll go next with him."

Baffert said Congaree, who runs Saturday as the likely favorite in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap, also will be on the Sunday charter, as will several of his 2-year-olds.

Last weekend, Baffert had Habibti shipped from Churchill to Bradbury Farm in California for a 30-day rest. Habibti, one of the top 2-year-old fillies of 2001, finished third in the Kentucky Oaks in her last start.

Baffert had considered a couple of Churchill races for Habibti after the Oaks but was dissatisfied with how she was training. "She just wasn't doing all that good," he said. "She wasn't putting on any weight and was actually a little sour."

Outofthebox retired

Outofthebox, winner of the Grade 1 Super Derby last September, has been retired because of a fractured cannon bone. He is the second top horse that the Klein family of Louisville has lost to retirement this week.

Outofthebox finished third in an allowance race on the May 4 Kentucky Derby undercard. Since then, his trainer, Steve Flint, had suspected something amiss with the 4-year-old colt, and a recent examination by veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramlage revealed a crescent shaped fracture of the lower leg.

"Brutal week, huh?" asked Richard Klein, who owns Outofthebox with his parents, Bert and Elaine Klein. Last weekend, the Kleins announced that their most accomplished mare, De Bertie, also was retired because of injury.

Outofthebox, the first Grade 1 winner for his sire, Montbrook, retires with 5 wins from 16 starts and earnings of nearly $735,000. Richard Klein said the family is "looking at all the possibilities" for a stud career.

Albarado nearly ready to ride

Jockey Robby Albarado, out since suffering a broken finger and lacerated hand in a June 2 spill at Churchill, plans to return to action in the All-Star Jockey Championship at Lone Star Park on June 21, agent Lenny Pike Jr. said.

Pike said that if all went well for Albarado, who was second to Pat Day in the Churchill standings at the time of the injury, the jockey would return to riding at Churchill the following day, June 22.

Albarado, 28, fractured the middle knuckle on the middle finger of his left hand in the spill. He underwent surgery to have two metal plates inserted on each side of the joint "to speed the healing process," Pike said. "He's already moving the finger around. The flexibility is not affected. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he got on a few horses a day or two before he goes down to Lone Star."

Rider relocates from Charles Town

Veteran jockey John B. Luzzi Jr. has joined the Kentucky jockey colony, primarily to familiarize himself with local horsemen in time for the 41-day Ellis Park meet that begins July 10.

Luzzi, 35, has been sidelined since November, when he suffered a lower-back injury in a spill at Charles Town, where he has ridden the last three years. Luzzi, whose younger brother is New York jockey Mike Luzzi, has hired former trainer Larry Kelly as his agent.

* Leelanau, who set a track record for 5 1/2 furlongs last May before it was later lowered by the standout filly Cashier's Dream, is nearing a return to action after an absence of over a year. A 3-year-old colt trained by Steve Morguelan, Leelanau has been away with a tendon injury since winning the 2001 Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes in 1:03.11. "We'll put him in pretty soon," Morguelan said.

* With so many big races to be run here Saturday, the best of 10 races here Friday is an entry-level allowance worth $44,400. Several top trainers have contenders in the seven-furlong race: John T. Ward Jr. with Test of Time, Carl Nafzger with Flying Free, and Steve Asmussen with Castner. A field of seven was entered.

* More players are needed for the June 24 scramble golf tournament to benefit the Randy Romero Transplant Fund. The tournament will be held at Nevel Meade. For more information, call John Dickson at (877) 815-5601.