05/02/2016 5:08PM

Sires of the 2016 Kentucky Derby: Pleasantly Perfect

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Lee Thomas
Pleasantly Perfect

What do Strike the Gold, Sea Hero, and Pleasantly Perfect have in common? They all have been at stud in Turkey.

While Kentucky Derby winner Strike Gold died in that country in 2011, Derby winner Sea Hero is still at stud there, as is Pleasantly Perfect.

Pleasantly Perfect is the sire of Kentucky Derby hopeful Whitmore, and the last time a Derby winner was sired by a horse who stands or stood in Turkey was . . .  of course, never. So Whitmore will have a lot of history going against him on the first Saturday of May. A sire being sold off to stand in Turkey is not usually a positive indicator of future success.

:: Sires of the 2016 Kentucky Derby | Download the Derby Sire Guide

What Whitmore does have going for him is a sire in Pleasantly Perfect who can get a good runner, even though his good ones have been relatively few and far between. But where’s there’s smoke, there is hope.

Also in his favor is that Pleasantly Perfect, now 18 and standing at the Turkish National Stud, is by 1981 Kentucky Derby winner Pleasant Colony (by His Majesty, by Ribot) and out of a mare by 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed, so classic success runs top and bottom.

On the track as a racehorse, Pleasantly Perfect drew more of his influence from his top side, other than his preferred running surface, dirt, as he matured late and when he got good, he got very, very good.

Trained by Richard Mandella in Southern California, Pleasantly Perfect did not make his debut until age 3 and did not win his first race until age 4, but when he figured it out, he was a terrific competitor at a middle distance and farther in the best races in Southern California and around the world.

At age 5, in 2003, he won the 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, defeating eventual top sire Medaglia d’Oro, and the following spring he went to Dubai and won the Dubai World Cup, again with Medaglia d’Oro second. Later that summer, he won the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic, before finishing third to winner Ghostzapper in the BC Classic at Lone Star Park. In races at 1 1/8 miles, Pleasantly Perfect was 3 for 4, and in races at 10 furlongs, he was 3 for 4.

He finished his racing career at the end of his 6-year-old season with a record of 9 wins in 18 starts and earnings of $7,789,880, retiring seventh on the all-time leading list of North American-based earners.

Pleasantly Perfect went to stud at Lane’s End for the 2005 breeding season for a fee of $40,000 and he got off to a slow start, getting but one juvenile stakes winner in his first crop, that being Pamona Ball, winner of the $100,000 Sharp Cat Stakes at Hollywood Park.

That first crop eventually yielded his best runner, Shared Account, as well as Silverside, and they both got better later, like their sire, and they also preferred turf, unlike their sire. Pleasantly Perfect has been a far better sire of turf runners, even though he was off the board in his only two starts on turf, but he gets that proclivity from his top side, being from the Ribot line.

Shared Account won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at age 4 at odds of 46-1. Pleasantly Perfect is one of the few Breeders’ Cup winners to sire a Breeders’ Cup winner. Shared Account was strictly a turf specialist. Earlier in her 4-year-old year, Shared Account won the Grade 3 All Along Stakes on grass and at 3 she won the Grade 2 Lake Placid on turf.

Silverside also was a turf specialist. He was Horse of the Year at age 4 in Spain, and the following year was the highweighted older horse on the German Free Handicap.

Pleasantly Perfect sired just two other graded stakes winners in North America, Cozi Rosie and Nonios.

Cozi Rosie, from his second crop, won three graded stakes on turf, including the Grade 2 John C. Mabee Stakes at age 4 in 2011.

From his fourth crop he got Grade 2 Affirmed Stakes winner Nonios, who was second to Paynter in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes in 2012.

By 2011, Pleasantly Perfect’s stud fee had fallen to $7,500, and by the 2014 breeding season it was $5,000, about the rock-bottom price for a  stallion in Central Kentucky.

In August 2014, it was announced that he would go to Taylor Made Stallions in Nicholasville, Ky., for the 2015 breeding season, but instead he was sold to private interests in October of that year to stand at the Turkish National Stud.

On May 7, Whitmore will try to become the first Grade 1 stakes winner for his sire on dirt.