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'Pegasus' Soars In Return

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands following a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2007. Rice launched her latest tour of the Mideast on Saturday with an effort to nudge Israel and the Palestinians closer to a political accommodation.
AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen
Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus made a successful return to racing Saturday, sweeping to a three-quarter length victory over El Corredor to take the $150,000 Jerome at Belmont Park.

Under Kent Desormeaux, the big bay 3-year-old was eased back off a swift early pace set by Albert the Great, then moved up three-wide on the turn to take the lead heading into the stretch.

El Corredor made a strong late run to pass Albert the Great but could not catch Fusaichi Pegasus, who was vigorously hand-ridden through the final 220 yards for his sixth victory in seven starts this year.

"I'm just so excited that he's back," Desormeaux said of Fusaichi Pegasus, who was making his first start since finishing second to Red Bullet in the Preakness on May 20. "Once we hit the eighth pole he put his foot down and just took off. I think I got whiplash from it. He finished up with something left and I'm just so glad for racing fans that he's back."

Fusaichi Pegasus's time for the mile was 1:34.07 over a wet-fast track, equaling the fourth-fastest running time of the Grade II Jerome.

"He had to run a bit," trainer Neil Drysdale said of Fusaichi Pegasus, who did not run in the June 10 Belmont Stakes because of a minor hoof injury and then did not race over the summer while negotiations for his sale were pending. "It was important to get this race today. It puts us in a position to run again before the Breeders' Cup (Nov.4 at Churchill Downs)."

Drysdale said the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Oct. 14 was under consideration, but he would not commit to the race.

"It's far too early to discuss where he'll go next," said Drysdale, who trains the colt for Fusao Sekiguichi and Shadai Farm. "The Gold Cup is certainly one of our options."

The favorite in the field of seven, Fusaichi Pegasus returned $4.40, $3 and $2.20, while El Corredor, ridden by Jerry Bailey, paid $3.60 and $2.60. Albert the Great, who finished another 4 1/2 lengths back under Jorge Chavez, paid $2.40 for show.

Trainer Nick Zito was visibly upset that Albert the Great was on the lead, setting fractions of 22.6, 44.36 and 1:08.36.

"Shocked, shocked is the word," Zito said. "Nobody wanted him on the lead. Why would I want him on the lead? It's insane."

Completing the order of finish were Concerned Minister, Hook and Ladder and Big E E.

Also Saturday, Trippi held off the late charge of stablemate More Than Ready to win the $300,000 Grade I Vosburgh by a half-length in a mild upset.

Ridden by Bailey, Trippi charged up into the early lead, zipping through comfortable fractions of 22.20, 44.60 and 1:08.65 to hit the wire in 1:21.66 even as the favorite's charge on the far outside to fall just short.

"Getting away with a 22 quarter for this horse was great for us, I knew he would have something left for the stretch," Bailey said.

t was the first Grade I victory for the Todd Pletcher-trained Trippi, who has now won seven of his nine lifetime starts, and he returned $9.20, $4.50 and $3.60. More Than Ready, also trained by Pletcher, paid $3.20 and $2.50 while One Way Love, who was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third, returned $5.30 for show.

Following him under the wire were Delaware Township, Successful Appeal, Valiant Halory, Iron Punch, Makeyourselfathome, Stalwart Member and Isintaj.

Pletcher said both Trippi and More Than Ready will be pointed toward the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

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