04/06/2004 11:00PM

Two Perfects return in Maker's Mark


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Not that the weatherman is predicting it, but Friday could be a "Perfect" afternoon at Keeneland. Although sunny skies are in the forecast, the high temperature might only reach 60, detracting slightly from ideal racing conditions.

Nonetheless, out on the Keeneland turf course, a duel may unfold between Perfect Soul and Perfect Drift, a pair of highly accomplished older horses entered in the Grade 2, $200,000 Maker's Mark Mile. Although neither has raced since the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 25, both have the class and ability to prevail following a layoff of such demanding length.

Trained by Roger Attfield, Perfect Soul won the Shadwell Turf Mile here last fall when rallying from far behind under Edgar Prado, who has the mount again Friday. A 6-year-old son of Sadler's Wells, Perfect Soul has won six races from 15 starts, including an allowance romp here last April and an equally sharp win in the Grade 2 King Edward at Woodbine in June.

Perfect Drift, trained by Murray Johnson, was good enough to defeat eventual Horse of the Year Mineshaft in June in the Stephen Foster Handicap. A 5-year-old son of Dynaformer, Perfect Drift has excelled on dirt, but Johnson said he believes Perfect Drift can win a turf race of this stature.

"He trained very similar toward this like he did last year," said Johnson, noting a strong allowance turf win for Perfect Drift following a layoff last April. "We're hoping he'll come around good again, maybe a little better."

If the result of the Maker's Mark is not perfect for Perfect Drift or Perfect Soul, the race could fall any number of ways.

Honor in War, winner of the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve last May, has the benefit of a recent turf race at Gulfstream Park, having been away since finishing second to Perfect Soul in the Shadwell Mile.

Stroll, a 4-year-old colt, enters with a five-race win streak for trainer Bill Mott. Stroll also will make his first start since October. He will also race against older stakes horses for the first time.

The rest of the field is Freefourinternet, Royal Spy, Burning Roma, Millennium Dragon, Needwood Blae, and Hear No Evil.

The Maker's Mark, named for the famed Loretto, Ky., distillery, is carded as the ninth of 10 races on a Friday program that begins at 1:15 p.m. Four allowance races also are on tap.