02/13/2009 1:00AM

Flying Pegasus to Louisiana Derby


NEW ORLEANS - After five months on the sidelines, Flying Pegasus proved he can still compete in the big leagues, running a strong second in the Grade 3 Risen Star last weekend as he began his 3-year-old campaign.

Sent off at 10-1, Flying Pegasus broke from post 12 and raced wide the whole way - and was still good for second place, two lengths in back of the winner, Friesan Fire.

Headquartered at Fair Grounds, and now firmly in conversations regarding the best 3-year-olds at the track, Flying Pegasus is being pointed toward the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 16.

"The Louisiana Derby is first preference," said his trainer, Ralph Nicks. "It depends on the competition and how he is training up to it."

Nicks is optimistic about his chances in the Louisiana Derby.

"He came out of the race in good shape," he said. "He's trained well at the Fair Grounds, and he ran well over it."

The Risen Star was the second meeting of Flying Pegasus and Friesan Fire, and Friesan Fire evened the score. They met last year in the Grade 2 Futurity, on Sept. 13 at Belmont, with Flying Pegasus finishing second, 2 3/4 lengths in front of third-place Friesan Fire.

Nicks declined to speculate about whether Flying Pegasus was being considered for the Kentucky Derby.

"We're taking it one race at a time, and we'll let the horse tell us where to go," said Nicks. "We're trying not to get caught up in the hype. Right now, though, you have got to like his chances for getting there."

Recapturetheglory returns to racing

Last year it was Recapturetheglory who led Louie Roussel III's comeback to racing. This year Roussel is attempting to repay the favor as he brings Recapturetheglory back to the races after having knee surgery.

Roussel has entered Recapturetheglory in Sunday's first race, a second-level allowance.

"I am glad that he has come this far," Roussel said. "Most horses don't get this far after knee surgery."

Recapturetheglory has been off since his ninth-place finish in the West Virginia Derby on Aug. 2. The tightrope between over training and under training has been difficult for Roussel to navigate.

"That's the fine line," said Roussel. "You don't want him to get hurt without enough fitness, yet you are hesitant to have him do too much and then they get sore."

Roussel decided to make sure he was fit for his return, scratching him from a scheduled race on Jan. 24, and giving him two extra works, including a bullet drill on Feb. 7.

"I wanted to get a good work," said Roussel, adding that the rider "had to get after him a little bit."

Recapturetheglory won the Illinois Derby last year for Roussel, who had been out of the training business for five years.

"It's important to get him back to the races," said Roussel. "But he'll probably need a race."

Stall's big two await next starts

After a busy weekend for Al Stall's star horses, they are back in training at Fair Grounds, looking toward their next races.

My Pal Charlie ran fourth in the Mineshaft at Fair Grounds, and Star Guitar turned in another dominating performance in the Premier Night Championship at Delta.

Star Guitar has been nothing short of spectacular while facing Louisiana-breds. His victory on Saturday night raised his career record to 6 wins from 7 starts, and now Stall is looking for places to run him.

"The plan is there is no plan," said Stall. "They used to have a Louisiana-bred race on closing day at the Fair Grounds, and they've eliminated it from the stakes schedule for whatever reason."

For My Pal Charlie, the effort in the Mineshaft was a disappointment, though it was meant as a prep race for the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap.

"He was a little fresh, and maybe a little short," said Stall. "Our goal for the Fair Grounds season was to prep for the New Orleans Handicap, and hopefully that's what the Mineshaft was."

After holding My Pal Charlie and Star Guitar off the track for an extra day as he waited for the surface to dry, Stall galloped both of them on Friday morning.