Fusaichi Pegasus has `superhorse' look

Assuming no `ifs' occur, he could dominate Derby

Horse Racing

May 06, 2000|By Steve Davidowitz | Steve Davidowitz,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I disagree with D.Wayne Lukas' assessment that there are no superhorses in this year's Kentucky Derby.

On the contrary, from what I've seen in his races and recent training moves at Churchill Downs, Fusaichi Pegasus is stone-cold, 24 carat.

He is so unusual, he scares the heck out of everybody, including his trainer, the deserving Hall of Fame inductee Neil Drysdale.

He is so unusual that he flashed three different gears en route to a strong win in the Wood Memorial on a tricky, slippery, rain-splattered racing surface. He is so good that he was never asked for any speed yet finished a six-furlong workout at Churchill on Sunday with a final quarter-mile in a sharp 232/5 seconds, galloping out powerfully.

Willful and rebellious to a fault, "Fusaichi" is a hugely proportioned, extremely athletic racehorse with three straight wins in high-class company that has only begun to reach full strength.

If he does not injure himself on the way to the post, if he does not dump his rider and literally run off, if he does not suffer severe interference, Fusaichi Pegasus will bury this above-average, relatively deep Derby field.

And, should he get through the Derby cavalry charge unscathed, it just might take a freight train to stop him from a Triple Crown sweep. He is that good.

I believe Fusaichi Pegasus has all the talent to become the first winning Kentucky Derby favorite since Spectacular Bid in 1979, and I will use him as a Trifecta key on two separate tickets with horses that also impressed in recent prep races and training moves: Captain Steve, who was a respectable third in the Santa Anita Derby and has trained strongly at Churchill Downs for two-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert.

The Deputy, the gritty, consistent winner of the Santa Anita Derby who lost only to Fusaichi Pegasus this year, tends to make his own racing luck.

Aptitude, a stretch runner with only one career victory who caught up to Fusaichi Pegasus in the gallop out past the finish line of the Wood Memorial and looked very strong in his gallop-out after a sharp workout Wednesday at Churchill.

Wheelaway has finished well in his prep races on speed-favoring tracks and looked sharper than usual in his final Derby workout. War Chant, also trained by Drysdale, was second to The Deputy in the Santa Anita Derby and might improve if Jerry Bailey can keep him under wraps early.

More Than Ready, Hal's Hope and High Yield, Graeme Hall (and Trippi) all have major-league speed - but speed in such abundance usually compromises each horse's chances. Better to use your favorite speed types on the bottom of exotic plays.

The Bet: Fusaichi Pegasus to win the 126th Kentucky Derby at about 3-2 odds.

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