June 8, 2023

Fusaichi Pegasus, 2000 Kentucky Derby winner, dies at 26

Fusaichi Pegasus wins the 2000 Kentucky Derby (Horsephotos.com)

Fusaichi Pegasus, who ended an unprecedented 21-year losing streak by post-time favorites in the Kentucky Derby (G1) when winning the 2000 edition, was euthanized Tuesday at Ashford Stud in Kentucky due to the infirmities of old age. He was 26.

Colloquially known as “Fu Peg” during his racing career, Fusaichi Pegasus was destined to be a star from an early age. Bred by Arthur Hancock III and Stonerside Farm’s Bob and Janice McNair, he was by the breed-influencing sire Mr. Prospector (who died a year before his son won the Derby) and out of Rowdy Angel, a Danzig full sister to 1992 Preakness (G1) winner Pine Bluff and a half-sister to the Grade 1-winning Demons Begone, the beaten favorite in the 1987 Kentucky Derby.

Fusaichi Pegasus was sold to Fusao Sekiguchi of Japan for $4 million at the 1998 Keeneland July yearling sale and was placed in training with future Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale. Although beaten a neck in his only start at two, at Hollywood Park, Fusaichi Pegasus would go on to win five straight, culminating with a 1 1/2-length victory in the Kentucky Derby as the 2.30-1 public choice under Kent Desormeaux. He had preceded that classic win with scores in the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita and the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct over Red Bullet.

Red Bullet would get his revenge over Fusaichi Pegasus in the Preakness, soundly defeating the odds-on favorite by 3 3/4 lengths. An injury to Fusaichi Pegasus’ right hoof prevented the colt from starting in the Belmont (G1).

Fusaichi Pegasus would race only twice more. After winning the Jerome H. (G2) at Belmont Park over a mile in September, he started as the 6-5 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs. However, he could only finish sixth to the late-developing three-year-old Tiznow, who prevailed narrowly following a spine-tingling stretch duel with European star Giant’s Causeway.

Tiznow, with two stakes wins against older horses and a head-to-head victory over Fusaichi Pegasus, was voted champion three-year-old male and Horse of the Year. Meanwhile, Fusaichi Pegasus retired with a record of 9-6-2-0, $1,994,400. He was purchased for stud duty at Coolmore for a reported $70 million.

In addition to his time in the U.S., Fusaichi Pegasus also stood in Australia and Uruguay. His most notable American-based offspring included Grade 1 winners Roman Ruler, Champ Pegasus, and Bandini, while his most prominent international performer was Australian champion Haradasun, a Group 1 winner at the 2008 Royal Ascot meeting.

“Fu Peg was a fantastic racehorse and a colorful character,” Ashford’s general manager Dermot Ryan said. “I would like to thank Richard Barry and all of his team, past and present, for providing the highest level of care for him throughout his time at Ashford.”