Pleasantly Perfect wins the 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic (Photo courtesy of Horsephotos).
A late starter, Pleasantly Perfect had a lot of catching up to do when he hit the track at three but he did all that and more.
It took Pleasantly Perfect a while to get the feel of racing but in his fourth start, he finally lived up to his $725,000 yearling price tag. The big horse showed he was worth the wait when he won the $500,000 Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Handicap in his final start as a 4-year-old.
However, it was during his 5-year-old season that Pleasantly Perfect really started to shine. He finished third in that year’s debut and fourth in the Santa Anita Handicap before coming back to again win the Goodwood after a long layoff. Pleasantly Perfect then headed back to the track for one of the biggest races of his career.
That year’s Breeders’ Cup was held at Santa Anita Park and it fit perfectly for the horse. It was a strong race and Pleasantly Perfect went off at odds of 14.20-to-1 as the sixth betting choice in the field of 10.
Pleasantly Perfect started near the back of the pack, racing in eighth through the first half-mile before edging closer to the front as the field went down the backstretch. As the field prepared to go into the far turn, jockey Alex Solis asked the bay to go and he picked up the pace. The pair finally hit the lead with less than a sixteenth of a mile to go and drew off to beat Medaglia d’Oro by a length and half.
The win was the end of a memorable 2003 Breeders’ Cup for trainer Richard Mandella, who won with four of his seven entries in the championship event.
2003 BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC
After three months off, Pleasantly Perfect returned to the track in 2004 and easily took the Santa Antonio Handicap by four lengths. The stage was then set for the horse to fly to Dubai for the $6 million Dubai World Cup.
The rivalry that began in the Classic continued all the way across the world when Medaglia d’Oro also shipped over for the race. Pleasantly Perfect raced closer to the lead this time, against the rail in third, and didn’t get rolling until the stretch. But unlike his last encounter with Medaglia d’Oro where he had been able to pass the colt fairly easily, Pleasantly Perfect had to fight for the lead in the World Cup.
It was an epic duel and it wasn’t until the end that Medaglia d’Oro finally yielded, giving Pleasantly Perfect the win with the rest of the field five lengths behind them. The victory ended Mandella’s streak of finishing second in the race, a relief for the trainer.
“You do have to worry if you are destined not to win after three seconds but I knew this fellow had a great chance,” he told the Blood-Horse. “He is a real class performer and when he drew level in the straight, I thought we had every chance – he has passed Medaglia D'Oro before, remember. What a night!”
2004 DUBAI WORLD CUP
After flying back to the United States, Pleasantly Perfect took 4 ½ months off and suffered a close second in the San Diego Handicap in his return. However, the loss was pushed to the back of people’s minds when he was united with Jerry Bailey in the Pacific Classic.
The pair proved to be a good team, winning by a length over Perfect Drift at even money odds. The win was vindication for Mandella, who had felt that Pleasantly Perfect’s loss in the San Diego Handicap had been his fault.
“I've been eating my heart out for the last three weeks because he lost the San Diego,” Mandella told the Blood-Horse. “I felt responsible for that loss. He shouldn't have a loss in that race on his record. I put too much speed into him before the race and he was too keen. He was too fresh and was rank. And there he was running too close to the lead in that race. He never did that before. That was a worry this time. I had to take that speed down after that race. I tried to keep him steady; I gave him a lot of paddock work. When you have a great horse, it's a great responsibility for a trainer.”
Pleasantly Perfect tried something new before the Breeders’ Cup Classic, bypassing another prep and going straight to the race. No horse had won the Classic off of a layoff of more than 49 days but the pair had already made history so it seemed to be fitting that they should attempt to enter the record books yet again.
Again, Pleasantly Perfect made his way from the back of the pack but he could only finish third. The winner of the race, Ghostzapper, set a track record that day while second-place finisher Roses In May would win the Dubai World Cup the next year, showing just how good the competition was in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Pleasantly Perfect was pointing toward a start in the Japan Cup for his final race but was injured soon after the Breeders’ Cup. Because of the time he needed to recover, it would be a challenge to reach the Japan Cup, so it was decided to retire him to Lane’s End Farm.
PLEASANTLY PERFECT (PHOTOS COURTESY OF HORSEPHOTOS.COM)
Pleasantly Perfect stood for $40,000 in his first year and had 81 foals in his first crop with 53 of his 67 starters winning and eight going on to become stakes winners.
His foals have had major success with two champions from two different crops, including Spanish horse of the year Silverside. Pleasantly Perfect also sired a Breeders’ Cup winner in 2010 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf victress Shared Account.
Overall, Pleasantly Perfect has produced 153 winners including 15 stakes winners from six crops of racing age.
Pleasantly Perfect still resides at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Ky. where he has stood for the past eight years.
He and Curlin, who also stands at Lane’s End, are the only stallions at stud to win both the Dubai World Cup and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Pleasantly Perfect is one of only six Breeders’ Cup Classic winners to sire another Breeders' Cup winner.