Drysdale to send `Pegasus' off from No. 16 spot in field

Trainer: High-strung colt needs a little distance

`Deputy' has post No. 11

Kentucky Derby notebook

May 04, 2000|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Fusaichi Pegasus will break from post No. 16 and the auxiliary gate as the 9-5 morning-line favorite Saturday in the 126th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

The connections of 20 horses -- a full field -- chose their post positions yesterday in the nationally televised draw at the Kentucky Derby Museum. For the third year, the draw was conducted in two phases: One, a draw was held to establish order of selection; two, based on that order, connections of each horse chose their post.

Captain Steve drew the No. 1 selection, and his connections -- trainer Bob Baffert and owner Mike Pegram -- chose post No. 8.

Fusaichi Pegasus drew the 12th selection. Even though positions were available in the main 14-slot starting gate, trainer Neil Drysdale chose post No. 16 in the six-slot auxiliary gate.

Drysdale said he made that choice for two reasons.

"I didn't want him to stand in the gate too long," he said. "And I wanted him outside to stay out of trouble."

Horses will be loaded into the starting gate two at a time in this order: Post positions 1 and 11, then 2 and 12, then 3 and 13, and so on. In post 16, Fusaichi Pegasus will be one of the last loaded.

He does not have a history of acting up in the starting gate, but in his last race, the Wood Memorial, the colt stopped and then refused to budge on the way to the gate. Drysdale said he does not anticipate a problem before the Derby.

Although breaking from the outside auxiliary gate is generally believed to be a disadvantage, three of the past five winners of the Derby started from there. Last year, the winner, Charismatic, broke from post 18, and the runner-up Menifee from 19.

Mike Battaglia, the long-time Churchill Downs oddsmaker, made Fusaichi Pegasus the solid favorite.

"Everybody knows this horse is going to be favored," Battaglia said. "I know his race in the Wood is still in everybody's mind."

In the Wood three weeks ago at Aqueduct, Fusaichi Pegasus dominated his field in one of the most impressive Kentucky Derby preps in years. If the colt had drawn a better post position, Battaglia said, he would have made him an even heavier favorite at 8-5.

The Deputy, the 4-1 second choice, will break from post 11. Barry Irwin, president of Team Valor, the syndicate that owns 50 percent of the colt, said that was "a stroke of good fortune," considering The Deputy selected 15th.

The Derby includes two unbeaten horses, Trippi and China Visit. Both are part of coupled entries.

Trippi is one of an unusual four-horse entry with High Yield, Impeachment and Commendable. The quartet is owned by Dogwood Stable and Beverly and Bob Lewis.

Trippi has not lost in four races, all this year at Gulfstream Park. He did not race at 2. He earned his place in the Derby with his most recent victory, the Flamingo Stakes, held this year at Gulfstream instead of its traditional site at Hialeah Park.

Battaglia said he considered making the Dogwood-Lewis entry the second choice ahead of The Deputy. But he decided against it when High Yield, the best of the bunch, drew the 18 starting slot.

China Visit is part of a two-horse entry with Curule. They are owned by Godolphin Racing, the Dubai-based stable in the Middle East trying to win America's premier race.

Although Battaglia made them 50-1, they will likely be much lower. China Visit, the stronger half, is lightly raced, but he has won both his races impressively.

Three horses will be in the 30-1 mutuel field: Deputy Warlock, Ronton and Wheelaway.

NOTE: Yesterday's Derby workouts: Aptitude, four furlongs in 47 15 seconds, and China Visit six furlongs in 1: 13 25. Robby Albarado rode Aptitude (although Alex Solis will do so Saturday), and he was pleased. "He's shown some real positives going into the race," Albarado said.

Kentucky Derby

What: 126th Kentucky Derby, first leg of horse racing's Triple Crown

Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky.

When: Saturday

TV: Chs. 2, 7 (coverage begins at 4:30)

Distance: 1 1/4 miles

Purse: $1 million

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