Premier Pegasus eyes Derby after huge San Felipe
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP)
Premier Pegasus trounced the Bob Baffert-trained favorite Jaycito and eight other 3-year-olds by more than seven lengths in the San Felipe Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita, announcing himself as a hot Kentucky Derby prospect and throwing wide open the West Coast field of Triple Crown contenders.
Ridden by Alonso Quinonez for trainer Myung Cho and racing longer than a mile for the first time, Premier Pegasus was seventh in the early going but made a huge move on the second turn, pulling away to win by a stakes-record 7 3/4 lengths and covering 1 1-16 miles in 1:41.23.
''The horses were flying on the lead during the first part of the race and I knew they were going to come back to the field. I was just hoping to make a move at the right time and he did, ''Quinonez said. ''I didn't hold his intentions back, I just let him go. He knew it was time to go because he is a very special horse.''
The Kentucky-bred son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus had won his first three starts including the Hollywood Prevue Stakes but finished a well-beaten third behind Baffert's The Factor in the Feb. 20 San Vicente Stakes.
Cho said that defeat didn't worry him, and Saturday's removal of blinkers and longer distance for the colt worked out perfectly.
''There was no concern,'' Cho said through a translator, his 17-year-old son. ''He came back strong, he came back ready, and he had a great workout and he looked great.''
Cho indicated the colt's next start would be in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 9.
Baffert's talented but streaky colt Jaycito was bumped early in his 3-year-old debut. He managed to get from last to second under urging from jockey Martin Garcia, but came nowhere near the leader.
''He did good. He was way back there,'' Baffert said. ''The horse learned a lot today, so we'll go step by step.''
Baffert's other entry, Awesome Patriot, finished sixth.
His top colt among 20 Triple Crown nominees, The Factor, is scheduled to run in the Rebel Stakes in Arkansas on March 19 as the trainer prepares prospects in an attempt to win his fourth Derby.
Premier Pegasus earned $150,000 to take his career total to $293,400 and paid $16.60, $7.20 and $5. Jaycito paid $4.60 and $3.60. Bench Points paid $5.40 to show.
Earlier Saturday, major long shot Miss Match rallied to edge heavy favorite Switch by a head to win the $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational for fillies and mares.
Trainer John Sadler's star filly Switch and jockey Joel Rosario had a near-perfect trip, stalking early leader Always a Princess in the early going and taking the lead coming out of the second turn, but Neil Drysdale's Miss Match and rider Garrett Gomez came from fifth at the top of the stretch to score the narrow upset, covering 1 1-8 miles on dirt in 1:47.33.
Miss Match, a 6-year-old mare bred in Argentina and owned by Matthew Cloros, paid $92.40, $14.60 and $6. Switch returned $2.60 and $2.40. Vision in Gold was a half-length back in third and paid $3.60 to show.
Running in second start for Drysdale, Miss Match earned $180,000 for the win, taking her career total to $551,614.