Fusaichi Pegasus

In nine career starts, this son of noted sire Mr. Prospector showed how much he loved to win. When he didn't get first place, he was almost always second, highlighting his competitive nature. From the West Coast tracks to the venues of the East, Fusaichi Pegasus took on the opposition. More often than not, he also took the winners' trophy.

His name was derived from a couple of sources. "Fusaichi" was a combination of co-owner Fusao Sekiguchi's first name, and the Japanese word, ichi, which means "one". Pegasus came from the mythical winged horse. Purchased for $400,000 at the 1998 Keeneland July Yearling Sale, Fusaichi Pegasus debuted at Hollywood Park in December of 1999 (one day after Laffit Pincay became the world's winningest rider). He just missed victory on his first try, but quickly graduated thereafter, winning at Santa Anita early in 2000 with Kent Desormeaux aboard for the first time (they would team up in every race thereafter). He went undefeated in Arcadia during the track's annual winter/spring meet, beating allowance foes and then capturing the Grade II San Felipe Stakes in his initial foray against that level of competition.

Next came a trip to the East, namely Aqueduct Racetrack in New York. The race was the Grade II Wood Memorial, and Fusaichi Pegasus had no trouble taking to the Big A. Heavily favored to win the Wood, he did just that, winning by more than four lengths over the runner up. That set Fusaichi Pegasus on course for the Kentucky Derby.

Made the top choice in the opener of the Triple Crown's first race, Fusaichi Pegasus began from post twelve. Whereas he usually stayed close to the front before making a move for the win (a style of running he employed throughout his career), the Derby was a different story. He started the race fine, but Desormeaux moved him towards the inside to save ground, not wanting to go wide early and compromise any chance of victory. Fusaichi Pegasus was several lengths down early on, but he had no trouble going by horses down the backstretch and far turn. He and Desormeaux got themselves in contention, and when they were in the stretch, they unleashed their finishing kick, powering through to get the win in what is still one of the fastest Kentucky Derbies ever run. It turned out to be a banner day for trainer Neil Drysdale, who had his first Derby win after conditioning horses for years.

With a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, Fusaichi Pegasus journeyed to Pimlico Race Course for the Preakness Stakes. Once again the odds-on choice, he had trouble at the start, but did not give up. Though not as far back as he had been in the Kentucky Derby, Fusaichi Pegasus was still multiple lengths down and racing wide during the course of the contest. Still, he showed his mettle, fighting back to take second place but seeing his Triple Crown bid thwarted.

After the Preakness, Fusaichi Pegasus took the summer off, reemerging in the Grade II Jerome Handicap at Belmont Park in September. He got back to his winning ways in that one, tracking the leaders and then taking over in the stretch. He returned to Belmont a few weeks later in the Breeders' Cup Classic, but raced wide throughout the 1 1/4 mile race to finish sixth in what was his career finale.

In his nine races, the horse known as FuPeg won six times and finished second twice, earning just a little below $2 million.

After being sold to Coolmore Stud for a reported $60 million, Fusaichi Pegasus spent time as a stallion in Kentucky and Australia. In addition to winning the Kentucky Derby, he had some highly regarded descendants in his family tree, with fellow classic winners Nashua, Native Dancer and Northern Dancer part of the pedigree along with Raise a Native (who has regularly shown up in the bloodline of Kentucky Derby champions) and Triple Crown champion Count Fleet.

Throughout his time as a sire, Fusaichi Pegasus has fathered multiple graded stakes winners, with Bandini, Bronzo, Champ Pegasus, Distinctive Dixie, International Star, Ravel, and Roman Ruler among those to join him as winners at racing's highest levels.

Though his time on the track was short, Fusaichi Pegasus accomplished a lot in the span of one year. He was a horse that displayed a cool demeanor on the racetrack. When staying close to the leaders, he seemed to move to them in a relaxed manner, passing them with no problem. Even in a race like the Kentucky Derby, where he was well behind the pace, he looked unflappable, and that calm helped him achieve one of racing's biggest prizes.

Determined, speedy, tough. Those are just a couple of words that can describe Fusaichi Pegasus. But one more aptly suits him: winner.

Entry added January 18, 2020 by AF.