Fusaichi Pegasus, the Kentucky Derby winner, looked far more comfortable on the track yesterday morning at Pimlico than he had the previous morning.
Shortly after 6 a.m., the heavy Preakness favorite galloped once around the track, his neck bowed exuding power. Before he broke into a gallop, he stopped three times - compared with nine the day before.
Such antics have become commonplace with Fusaichi Pegasus. But during races, he has been nothing but professional - and better than his opposition.
Still, opposing trainer Joe Orseno, who will saddle Red Bullet, said yesterday that Fusaichi Pegasus' occasional reluctance to train in the morning may eventually hurt him in the afternoon."He's got to be a good horse," Orseno said. "So far he's gotten away with it. But sooner or later a horse is going to lose some conditioning."
Trainer Neil Drysdale acknowledged that he hasn't done much with Fusaichi Pegasus between the Derby and Preakness, just one five-furlong breeze at Churchill Downs. But the trainer said the colt is fit and ready for today's 1 3/16 miles.
Drysdale also said that he is not responsible for the strict security surrounding his horse in Barn 7 on the remote, eastern side of the Pimlico backstretch. The Sun reported yesterday that Drysdale had asked for the restrictions."I categorically deny that it was me," Drysdale said. "I did not specify that the whole thing be blocked off."
He also said that Fusaichi Pegasus received his Thursday bath outdoors. The Sun reported that he had been bathed in his stall.
Jim Mango, chief operations officer for the Maryland Jockey Club, said he and other track officials had met with Drysdale about security and privacy for Fusaichi Pegasus.
"We basically have felt that we were accommodating Mr. Drysdale's wishes," Mango said. "He approved the setup.
"We're all trying to do the right thing here. ... We just want to make sure the horse is safe and sound, and we want that horse to run [this] afternoon."
With $53,959 wagered at Pimlico, Laurel Park and Rosecroft Raceway yesterday on the Preakness, here are the closing win odds at 6:20 p.m.:
Fusaichi Pegasus 1-9, High Yield 10-1, Red Bullet 11-1, Captain Steve 18-1, Hal's Hope 30-1, Impeachment 35-1, Snuck In 35-1 and Hugh Hefner 70-1.
First run in 1870 as the Dinner Party Stakes and won by the horse Preakness, the Grade II, $200,000 Dixie Stakes anchors today's undercard at Pimlico.
The Dixie is one of five stakes worth at least $100,000 supporting the 125th Preakness. Trainer Bill Mott-a winner of four stakes on Preakness Day two years ago, including the Dixie with Yagli-has entered Garbu in the 1 1/8 -mile test for older horses on the turf.
Garbu, bred by Allen Paulson (Cigar), is 7-for-16 lifetime on the grass and heads a field of nine after winning the Georgia Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Assn.Stakes last time out.
The Baltimore Post Office is celebrating the Preakness' 125th birthday by issuing a commemorative picture postmark and collectable envelope. Lukas will be honorary postmaster of "Preakness Station," the temporary office which will distribute the souveneirs at Pimlico today.
Sun staff writer Sam Borden contributed to this article.