Perfect Runaway – Vanderbilt Stakes Recap

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By Sean Clancy

Padua’s Stable’s Sasha Sanan watched Majesticperfection walk out of the paddock for Sunday’s Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap; part parent, part fan, Sanan stood in amazement. 

“Look at him,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade with anybody.”

No need.

A blueprint of a sprinter, Majesticperfection broke like he was out of prison and never looked back, dominating six rivals to win the $250,000 stakes by 2 3/4 lengths over Big Drama, Bribon and Gayego. The first four finishers came home in the direct order of their odds; the $2 superfecta (first, second, third, fourth choices in order) paid $92.40.

Owned by Padua Stable and trained by Steve Asmussen, Majesticperfection improved his career record to 5-for-6 by winning his fifth start in a row.

The Grade I Vanderbilt came easily.

Under Shaun Bridgmohan, Majesticperfection brushed the side of the gate but still outbroke the field by a half-length and opened a secure advantage in a matter of strides. Big Drama staked in second with Mambo Meister third. Gayego fought for room on the rail and Bribon lagged in last. After a quarter in 22.80 seconds and a half in 45.60, Majesticperfection turned for home in complete control as Big Drama tried to rally and Bribon began to close ground from the back.

Bridgmohan flicked his whip like he was shooing flies and it was all over. Majesticperfection won easily and galloped out with his ears pricked after 6 furlongs in 1:08.63.

Sanan, watching from the fourth row of the clubhouse boxseats, smacked his rolled-up program in his hand harder than Bridgmohan used his whip.

“Come on Bridge. Come on Bridge. Come on Bridge. Come on Bridge,” Sanan yelled as Majesticperfection sprinted past the furlong pole. By the time he hit the wire, Sanan had turned and high-fived his father Satish, bloodstock agent David Ingordo and Glennwood Farm’s Tanya Gunther.

“Now, that’s fast,” Sasha Sanan said.

“That’s the way they’re supposed to run,” Satish Sanan said.

Sold for $370,000 at OBS April, 2008, Majesticperfection took a while to repay Padua.

Sent to John Shirreffs in California, the son of Harlan’s Holiday never made it to the races on the West Coast and came east to hook up with Asmussen. He made his debut at 4, at Fair Grounds and finished third. He hasn’t lost since, winning five races at as many racetracks.

He broke his maiden at Fair Grounds in February, then won an allowance at Oaklawn Park and another at Churchill Downs. Asmussen shipped him to Prairie Meadows for his stakes debut where he posted his first quarter in 21 2/5 seconds, a half in 43 2/5 and finished three-quarters in 1:07 1/5.

Now that’s fast.

“The way he was in his last race, he was just unbelievable. I was worried about  whether he could run that well again. That’s a tough race to repeat. As soon as he left (the gate) I knew he was ready, the same as he was the last time,” Bridgmohan said. “His cruising speed is so good that he’s barely working hard and other horses are really working to stay with him. I like when he flips his ears up in the stretch. That’s a nice feeling. Unbelievable. Usually, when they are running that fast they aren’t as relaxed as he is.”

Asmussen took his time with Majesticperfection – fearing ability and fragility would clash – he sent him home once and then put him into a long, steady legging-up program before he made his first start. He jogged and galloped for 60 days before he opened galloped.

“He was really strong, heavy, and fast, he got body sore as could be, felt like you were about to tear him up. We turned him out, he came back a completely better horse,” Asmussen said. “Sasha actually worked for us for six months, it’s very comfortable talking to him about what you see and what you think, they believe in us. You look at him, how can he not be fast? He’s an impressive physical horse.”

Majesticperfection has dominated on the front end in his five victories, never coming under any pressure. Utilizing a low, efficient and powerful stride, Majesticperfection  puts his rivals on the run from the beginning and has the rare ability to finish it off as well.

In his five victories, he’s earned comments such as “opened up, exploded stretch, drew off, never roused and powered further ahead.”

“It’s unbelievable, he’s playing around. His ears are going back and forth. Down the backside, he was just cruising, doing nothing, it’s effortless for him,” Bridgmohan said. “As long as I can sit there with a loose rein, he will keep going. If I have to fight with him then it’s not as good. I don’t think anybody could beat him if he runs like that. He was really on top of his game today. He was able to dictate, set his own pace and get into a rhythm.”

Majesticperfection has more rhythm than Miles Davis. Asmussen isn’t surprised the horse runs fast – and relaxed – in his races.

“He’s unbelievably easy to be around. He’s got a lot of confidence. I don’t know if he knows what he’s doing, the way he’s won, he doesn’t know they’re not an a-other-than and a two-other-than,” Asmussen said. “With that being said, he’s run four races in a row that are very good, I don’t think he’s getting better, I just think that’s as good as he is and hopefully we can maintain it. We space his races and hope for the same outcome.”

One of two 4-year-olds in the Vanderbilt, Majesticperfection had earned $160,430 while his six rivals had combined to earn $5.1 million before the race. Patience by everybody involved has helped.

“John had him first, to his credit, he realized he couldn’t quite get him over the hump out there,” Sasha Sanan said. “Waiting was the right thing to do for the horse so it made it a lot easier. I’m biased but I think the world of Steve as a horseman, when you have a horse with him, you speak the same language, things seem to fall into place. The horse has issues and Steve knows the fine line of knowing what’s too much and what’s not enough.”

Majesticperfection will tell him the rest.