Fusaichi Pegasus winning the 2000 Kentucky Derby (Photo courtesy Horsephotos.com).
Fusaichi Pegasus’ debut didn’t go as planned when he lost to David Copperfield by a neck in December 1999. However, the colt by Mr. Prospector quickly made up for that loss by reeling off five consecutive wins, including the Kentucky Derby.
It’s no surprise that “FuPeg”, as he was dubbed by fans, was the favorite in all of his races other than his debut. The colt sold for $4 million at the 1998 Keeneland July sale of selected yearlings and thus became the most expensive Kentucky Derby winner ever sold at public auction.
But his auction price did not help win him a Triple Crown as his hopes were dashed two weeks after the Derby in the Preakness Stakes when he ran a bit erratically in the stretch after being pinched at the break and finished second by 3 ¾ lengths to Red Bullet.
The Preakness was the last time Fusaichi Pegasus was seen in the Triple Crown after suffering an injury in a freak barn accident that caused him to miss training. Red Bullet also missed the Belmont Stakes, making it the first time since 1970 that both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winners skipped the last jewel of the Triple Crown.
“He gouged a small piece the size of a dime out of the side of the hoof,” Neil Drysdale, Fusaichi Pegasus’ trainer, said at the time. “There is no soreness, but he couldn't work [Sunday], and we want to preclude further injury.”
After four months away from the track, Fusaichi Pegasus returned in the Jerome Handicap (G2) with regular jockey Kent Desormeaux. The colt proved to be ready for the race, moving up around the turn and easily winning by three-quarters of a length over El Corredor and Albert the Great.
The final race for Fusaichi Pegasus was the Breeders’ Cup Classic against a star-studded field that included eight Grade 1 winners. Carrying on his tradition, Fusaichi Pegasus went off as the favorite in the race but finished in midpack.
In a move that was announced months before the race, Fusaichi Pegasus was retired to Ashford Stud after the Breeders’ Cup Classic. While no price was disclosed, it was announced after his Kentucky Derby win that he had been sold to the Coolmore group for stallion duties for a price that was assumed to be around $70 million. The colt’s career came to a halt after nine races with a record of six wins and two seconds, four stakes wins, and $1,994,400 in purse earnings.
FUSAICHI PEGASUS AT ASHFORD STUD
Photo courtesy Melissa Bauer-Herzog
Fusaichi Pegasus’ initial fee at Ashford Stud in Kentucky for the 2001 season was $150,000 with the stallion shuttling to Australia that summer to stand for $100,000 Australian (about $50,000 U.S. at the time). Out of the 93 foals to hit the ground in his first crop, 71 made it to the track and 58 won, including Haskell Invitational Stakes winner Roman Ruler and Australian group stakes winner Flying Pegasus. His success continued on through his next crop when his son Haradasun was named champion 3-year-old colt in Australia and champion older horse in England and Ireland.
After shuttling to Australia for seven years, Fusaichi Pegasus spent two seasons in South America in 2008 and 2010. However, even before Fusaichi Pegasus shuttled to South America, he made a big impact on the continent with Ole Pegasus (two-time champion sprinter in Peru) leading the charge among his runners in many South American countries.
Overall through March 25, Fusaichi Pegasus has 1,310 starters from 1,735 foals. Of his 881 winners, 69 have won a stakes race with three being named champion. Haradasun dominated in Australia in 2006 and was named champion 3-year-old that year before traveling to Europe and earning the champion older miler with Vistoso earning championship honors in Mexico in 2010 and 2011 and Ole Pegasus winning female sprinter honors in Peru during the 2010 season as well.
As a sire of sires, Fusaichi Pegasus is off to a good start with first-crop son Roman Ruler siring multiple graded stakes winning millionaire Rule in his first crop and Ruler On Ice, the 2011 Belmont Stakes winner, in his second crop.
“Roman Ruler has done a good job; he just got beaten by Offlee Wild [as leading freshman sire]. [Fusaichi Pegasus] has done well and has Bandini at stud as well, so you hope that his sire line can continue and hopefully there are more colts to come through, you never know,” Ashford’s Scott Calder said.
Fusaichi Pegasus’ potential as a broodmare sire has not yet had a chance to be fully seen with 734 foals of racing age (including 2-year-olds of 2013) and only 373 to start as of March 26. But he has had some major success in that time with multiple graded stakes contenders.
“In addition to stakes winners in America in 2012 his daughters produced Hakassan, a multiple Grade 1 winner in Chile; and Niagara, a Grade 2 winner in Australia,” Calder said. “He was also the broodmare sire of Free Judgement, who was a Grade 3 winner and ran second in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas in 2010.”
As one of only four major sons of Mr. Prospector and the only Kentucky Derby-winning son still standing in the United States, Fusaichi Pegasus looks to provide breeders with a chance to get to a stallion by one of the most influential stallions of the 20th century for years to come. If his current stats are any indication, Fusaichi Pegasus won’t just provide them a good racehorse, but a horse that will reward them in the breeding shed as well.