Red Bullet upset Fusaichi Pegasus at the Preakness

By Ed Schuyler Jr. Associated Press Published:

Red Bullet upset Fusaichi Pegasus at the Preakness on Saturday, meaning the Triple Crown drought will extend at least 23 years.

Orseno, Red Bullet's trainer, decided to skip the Derby after the chestnut colt finished 4 1/4 lengths behind Fusaichi Pegasus in the Wood Memorial on April 15 at Aqueduct.

"It just seemed like the right thing to do for the colt, and it paid off today," Orseno said.

With a crowd of 98,304 watching on a dismal, damp day at Pimlico, Red Bullet finished 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Fusaichi Pegasus, the 1-5 favorite.

"The strategy worked," said Frank Stronach, Red Bullet's owner.

Fusaichi Pegasus was an impressive winner in the Derby, his fifth straight victory, and he was trying to become the fourth consecutive Derby-Preakness winner. The 11th and last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978.

"Red Bullet is a very talented horse. I said that all along," said Neil Drysdale, Fusaichi Pegasus' trainer.

While the ultimate goal was the finish line, Red Bullet's jockey, Jerry Bailey, had another target in his battle with Fusaichi Pegasus.

"I thought if I could beat him to the quarter pole, I probably could beat him to the wire," Bailey said. "And it turned out to be just that way."

Red Bullet was the first Preakness winner not to have started in the Derby since Deputed Testamony in 1983.

"We made the switch to Jerry because we knew Jerry knew how to rate," Orseno said. "And we had five weeks to school this horse to do just that. Everything turned out right for us. Give Frank Stronach all the credit you can.

"It was a tough decision to pass on the Kentucky Derby, but we knew we had a horse with a lot of talent and we knew to pick our spot and point for the 3-year-old championship," Orseno said.

Fusaichi Pegasus was the first Derby winner to be favored in the Preakness since Go for Gin finished second in 1994. He was the first odd-on favorite in the race since Easy Goer finished second at 3-5 in 1989. The last odds-on favorite to win was Spectacular Bid at 1-10 in 1979.

The winning time on a wet track rated as good after a misty rain during much of the day was 1:56 for 1 mile and 3-16.

"Actually, the last time against Pegasus, we had a similar track _ it also rained that day," Stronach said.

But it wasn't the same track for Fusaichi Pegasus _ at least in Drysdale's opinion.

"He couldn't handle the track," Drysdale said. "That's the way I saw it, and that's the way Kent Desormeaux saw it.

Red Bullet, winning for the fourth time in five starts, all of them this year, paid $14.40, $3.20 and $2.80 and earned $650,000 to boost his career bankroll to $963,800.

Fusaichi Pegasus returned $2.60 and $2.20 and Impeachment, ridden by Craig Perret, paid $3.60.

"This horse really showed what he is made of today," Bailey said. "He just exploded on the turn. He was the better horse."

Bailey also paid tribute to Fusaichi Pegasus.

"I knew he was a good horse, and he probably still is a good horse, but it's hard to win two tough races like this," he said.

Bailey, however, added: "I was surprised that he couldn't keep with me to midstretch."

Hugh Hefner broke on top and led the field around the first turn and into the backstretch, where he surrendered the lead to High Yield briefly before regaining it. The longshot still left with a half-mile to go.

At this point, Fusaichi Pegasus was third and Red Bullet was sixth.

Fusaichi Pegasus began moving for the lead on the turn, but so did Red Bullet. He beat the Derby winner to the quarter pole just as Bailey had hoped he would.

Red Bullet held the lead all the way through the stretch. Fusaichi Pegasus was third with an eighth of a mile to go and couldn't get any closer than second. And it wasn't a close second.

Completing the order of finish after Impeachment, who also finished third in the Kentucky Derby, were Captain Steve, Snuck In, Hugh Hefner, High Yield and Hal's Hope.

Orseno said he and Stronach would wait a couple of days before deciding on whether to run Red Bullet in the mile-and-half Belmont Stakes on June 10.

"If the horse comes out and feels great, we'll probably run him back in three weeks. The horse will truly tell me."

The Belmont could set up a rubber match between Red Bullet and Fusaichi Pegasus.

"We'll have to see how he comes out of the race," Drysdale said. "If he comes out OK, we'll press on.

"Am I disappointed? I'm disappointed for the horse. I like to see him do well with everything he can," he said.

While Drysdale might be second-guessing his decision to run Fusaichi Pegasus back two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, a concern he expressed, Orseno was rejoicing in his decision to skip the Derby.

"With the classics, you are kind of rushed, and you don't follow your head," he said. "Most times, you follow your heart."

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.