Fusaichi Pegasus proves Derby bettors right
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Fusaichi Pegasus kicked up his heels
before the Kentucky Derby in what looked like a victory dance.
Maybe he knew what was coming.
The playful colt, who sometimes gets too exuberant, acted like a
perfect gentleman Saturday in doing what good horses like Easy
Goer, Arazi and Holy Bull couldn't do-- win the Derby as the betting
The last horse to do that was Spectacular Bid in 1979.
Fusaichi Pegasus came on strong in the stretch, taking the lead approaching the eighth pole and finishing 1½ lengths ahead of Aptitude.
And he did it while on his best behavior.
This is the colt who caused a brief delay at the starting gate at the Wood Memorial, who reared and threw his exercise rider and who has been known to stop and just look around.
But he was all business on this 82-degree day and before 153,204 cheering fans -- the second largest Derby crowd in history.
So gentlemanly was the colt, purchased for $4 million as a yearling, that jockey Kent Desormeaux said he broke like a pony.
|Fusaichi Pegasus crosses the wire ahead of Aptitude to win the 126th running of the Kentucky Derby.|
Fusaichi Pegasus was the highest priced winner by far in the
Derby and his victory came a year after the race was won by
Charismatic, who once ran with a $62,500 claiming tag.
"You never know where a Derby winner is coming from," trainer Neil Drysdale said before the race. "Some cost $15,000, some cost $15 million."
For instance, Seattle Slew, the 1977 Triple Crown winner was
bought for $17,500 while Real Quiet, who carried Desormeaux to
victory in 1998, was a $17,000 yearling.
Fusaichi Pegasus, on the rail until he hit the stretch, was back
in the pack down the backstretch. He started moving on the turn and
made his winning move around five horses in the stretch. He then
took the lead from Wheelaway shortly after that colt moved in and
bumped Captain Steve.
The Deputy, the second favorite, trained by Jenine Sahadi,
"I'm very disappointed, not for myself," said Sahadi, trying
to become the first female trainer to win the Derby. "I feel bad
for the horse. We'll pack up, go home and regroup again."
Almost as jubilant as the winning connections, was Marlon St.
Julien, who finished seventh on Curule, owned by the Godolphin
Racing Stable of Sheik Mohammed Mahkthom and Hamdan al-Makhtoum of
"I thought I had something to prove," said the 28-year-old St.
Julien, the first black jockey to ride in the Derby since 1921. The
last black rider to win was Jimmy Winkfield in 1902.
"I beat several of the favorites," St. Julien added. "What
else could you want? When they played 'My Old Kentucky Home' my
hair stood up on my chest. I can't explain the feeling. I'm on some
kind of high."
"I was a little worried," Drysdale said, referring to the wall
of horses in front of his colt at the top of the lane. "But then
the racing gods smiled on us and things opened up."
"He had some challenging moments," Desormeaux said. "But when
I needed him to move forward, I had a ton of horse. When I
encouraged him to improve his stride, he took off like a rocket and
this race was over."
Drysdale was pleased with how the playful Fusaichi Pegasus won
"I noticed watching the race three times that Kent was riding
him with one hand," the trainer said. "He was very relaxed. He
does seem to be improving."
He was asked if Fusaichi Pegasus would go to the Preakness, the
second race in the Triple Crown, in search of a sixth straight
victory. The cautious Drysdale said: "You know how I am. We'll
have to see how he comes out of this race."
Wherever the colt races, it likely will be in the United States.
"Fusaichi Pegasus is a treasure of the United States and I hope
to keep him in the United States," owner Fasao Sekiguchi of Japan
said through an interpreter.
"I am just in awe," he said of the victory, and added that he
would have bid $5 million for the colt.
The time of 2:01.12 was tied for the sixth fastest in the 126
The winner earned $888,400 and paid $6.60, $5.60 and $4 after
finishing a length-and-a-half in front of Aptitude, who paid $9.80
and $5.80. Impeachment, who was four lengths behind Aptitude and a
half-length in front of More Than Ready, paid $4 as part of a
four-horse entry due to common ownership.
"I couldn't have asked for a better trip," said Alex Solis,
who rode the stretch-running Aptitude for the first time.
"Unfortunately, the horse that won was just fantastic."
Completing the order of finish was Wheelaway, China Visit,
Curule, Captain Steve, War Chant, Deputy Warlock, Trippi, Exchange
Rate, Anees, The Deputy, High Yield, Hal's Hope, Commendable,
Ronton and Graeme Hall.
It was a disappointing day also for trainer D. Wayne Lukas,
seeking his second straight Derby victory and fourth in the last
six year. Lukas saddled three horses then watched Exchange Rate
finish fourth, High Yield 15th and Commendable 17th.
Another Derby jinx was extended when Anees, the 2-year-old
champion and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner finished 13th.
Spectacular Bid was the last 2-year-old champion, and no winner of
the BC Juvenile, which was first run in 1984, has ever won the
After being bumped, Captain Steve finished eighth. He is trained
by Bob Baffert, who won the Derby in 1997 with Silver Charm and a
year later with Real Quiet.
Fusaichi Pegasus became the first Derby winner to have raced
only once as a 2-year-old. The others were Leonatus (1883), Tim Tam
(1958) and Lucky Debonair (1965). Those three horses ran long
before there were bonuses in thoroughbred racing.
Speaking of bonuses, Fusaichi Pegasus earned an extra $250,000
paid to any colt who wins the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and the
He was the first Wood Memorial-Derby winner since Pleasant
Colony in 1981.
What They Said
"The racing gods smiled on us, the rail opened and he moved up. He is talented and I'm very proud of him."
-- Trainer Neil Drysdale
"I had a great trip, just a perfect trip. I couldn't have asked for any more that way."
-- Jockey Alex Solis
"This horse has no speed, so I knew we'd be last
early, going to the first turn, so I just sat there and waited. I'm
proud of him and the way he closed because not too many horses
closed ground today."
-- Jockey Craig Perret
More Than Ready
"I had a good trip, and right near the eighth pole I made the lead. I thought I was going to win it. Then the
winner went by me and I knew I couldn't catch him."
-- Jockey John Velasquez
"I thought we could win it at the eighth pole. The winner was just so good today."
-- Trainer John Kimmel
"At the three-eighths pole, I thought we were going to win. He was really in the bridle, but ran out of steam at
the three-sixteenths pole."
-- Jockey Frankie Dettori
"He ran better than expected, and the Godolphin people seemed pleased. That makes me happy."
-- Jockey Marlon St. Julien
"Turning for home, I thought I was home free. I thought I had him in a good spot, right where I wanted to be."
-- Jockey Robbie Albarado
"We don't have any excuses. Down the backside, he came out of the bridle and I couldn't get him to pick it up again
until the eighth pole."
-- Jockey Jerry Bailey
"He got hung extremely wide on the second turn. He wouldn't have won it anyway, but we'll just regroup and find
-- Trainer Ken McPeek
"No excuses. He just got tired."
-- Jockey Jorge Chavez
"He ran well for a ways."
-- Trainer D. Wayne Lukas
"I was behind the winner the whole way. But when it came time to go, it wasn't there. I just ran out of juice."
-- Jockey Corey Nakatani
"I could see him clearly and I didn't see anything. He just didn't fire."
-- Trainer Jenine Sahadi
"I had a good trip. I just didn't have any horse."
-- Jockey Pat Day
"When I saw the fractions, I got nervous. You just can't go that fast. I did think he would run a little better, but
he went too fast too early."
-- Trainer Harold Rose
"My jockey said he was strong to the three-eighths pole, and then he flattened out."
-- Trainer D. Wayne Lukas
"He never took hold of the track. He just never grabbed the bridle or seemed comfortable in his stride."
-- Jockey Brice Blanc
"We were eased. He was not hurt, just fatigued."
-- Jockey Shane Sellers