Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Fusaichi Pegasus, unraced since a second-place finish in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), returns to the races in the $150,000 Jerome Handicap (gr. II) Saturday at Belmont Park. The one-mile race for 3-year-olds drew a field of seven.
"The horse has done very well," said trainer Neil Drysdale. "He's developed like a 3-year-old should and he benefited from the rest."
When Fusaichi Pegasus went to the sidelines prior to the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Albert the Great had only just run though his first allowance condition. Since then the 3-year-old son of Go for Gin has won another allowance race and the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II), as well as finishing a hard-fought second in the 1 1/4-mile Travers Stakes (gr. I).
"It's always tough cutting back," said Zito of the switch in distances from the Travers to the Jerome. "Coming off a mile and a quarter, the other horses with early speed might have an advantage. I don't know where he'll be, but I know he's a class horse."
Also entered is Withers Stakes (gr. III) winner Big E E, who put in a bullet work over Belmont's training track Thursday morning. The James Jerkens-trained son of Jolie's Halo zipped four furlongs in :47.45, handily. The drill was the fastest of 20 at the distance Thursday.
After winning the one-mile Withers, Big E E finished off the board in both the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) and the Leonard Richard Stakes. Following a brief freshening, he finished second in a Saratoga allowance race in August before winning a seven-furlong allowance contest by 5 1/2 lengths earlier this month at Belmont.
Bob Baffert will saddle El Corredor. In his stakes debut earlier this month, El Corredor beat older horses in the one-mile Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II). The Mr. Greeley-sired colt comes into the Jerome with a four-race winning streak.
The field for the one-mile Jerome Handicap, with jockeys and weights, will consist of:
1--Fusaichi Pegasus, Kent Desormeaux, 124
2--Albert the Great, Jorge Chavez, 120
3--El Corredor, Jery Bailey, 117
4--Quiet Mike, Mike Smith, 112
5--Concerned Minister, Edgar Prado, 114
6--Hook and Ladder, Richard Migliore, 113
7--Big E E, Heberto Castillo Jr., 114