Updated on 09/17/2011 7:07PM

Fusaichi Samurai dazzling in debut

Benoit & Associates
Fusaichi Samurai and Victor Espinoza, who said this colt "could be the best horse ever."

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - For months, trainer Neil Drysdale thought he had a top prospect in Fusaichi Samurai. On Saturday, everyone else got the news.

In a dazzling debut, Fusaichi Samurai cruised to victory in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race while being geared down in the final yards by jockey Victor Espinoza. Fusaichi Samurai ran the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.54 and got a Beyer Speed Figure of 92, but the 2-year-old colt gave every indication he could have done more if needed.

Fusaichi Samurai is a son of Fusaichi Pegasus, whom Drysdale trained to victory in the 2000 Kentucky Derby. He was purchased at Calder in February for $4.5 million, a record price for a 2-year-old in training. He is now owned by Fusao Sekiguchi, who also owned Fusaichi Pegasus.

There are other similarities between Fusaichis pere et fils besides owner and trainer. Espinoza also rode Fusaichi Pegasus in his debut, which also took place on Dec. 11 of his 2-year-old season. Dec. 11 also happens to be Drysdale's birthday.

"It was a really nice introduction for the horse," Drysdale said. "He broke so well, so fast. He's a natural athlete."

Fusaichi Samurai had his training interrupted by rainy weather in late November and early December.

"He won despite the fact he lost some time because of the weather," Drysdale said. "Whenever you lose time, you're concerned. But we felt it was best to just go ahead and run him."

Drysdale said Fusaichi Samurai is more "straightforward" in his training than his sire, who was prone to playful, erratic behavior in the mornings. Physically, Drysdale said, "Fusaichi Pegasus was a big horse. This horse is tall. I don't know if he's taller, but he's leaner."

Drysdale said he had not yet decided on where or when Fusaichi Samurai would make his next start, but said the colt came out of the race in good shape.

Let the hyperbole begin

Victor Espinoza rode Fusaichi Pegasus in his debut, which he lost narrowly, and later was replaced by Kent Desormeaux, who won the Kentucky Derby on Fusaichi Pegasus. Five years later, Espinoza rode Fusaichi Samurai in his debut, and lately he has been getting more of Drysdale's business than Desormeaux.

"This horse is unbelievable," Espinoza said of Fusaichi Samurai. "His stride, the way he acts. Just unbelievable. He feels stronger than his father, and he is just so professional. I really believe he could be the best horse ever."

Drysdale has likely favorite in Starlet

Drysdale has a top 2-year-old filly as well, in Splendid Blended, who is expected to head the field in Sunday's Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet.

Splendid Blended has won twice in three starts, her lone loss coming when she finished second to Sweet Catomine in the Oak Leaf Stakes during Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting. Splendid Blended completed her serious training for the Starlet with an easy six-furlong breeze in 1:16 on Sunday morning with exercise rider Marcelino Olguin.

"She went very well. Just a steady breeze," Drysdale said. "She was very comfortable."

In addition to Splendid Blended, the Starlet field is expected to include Charming Colleen, Memorette, No Bull Baby, Northern Mischief, Revealed, Sharp Lisa, and possibly Kenza.

Both Kenza and Revealed are trained by John Shirreffs. He was not sure if either would start. Revealed worked six furlongs in 1:14 on Monday at Hollywood Park, but recently missed some training because of wet weather. "It's hard to go in a race like that when you miss training," Shirreffs said.

Kenza ran three weeks ago in the Miesque Stakes, finishing third. "She'd be coming back quick. It'll depend on the strength of the field," Shirreffs said.

Northern Mischief worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 at Santa Anita on Monday.

Orman to open public stable

Jason Orman, best known for training Preakness runner-up Rock Hard Ten earlier this year, on Monday said he is opening a public stable. Orman had been employed privately by Ernie Moody's Mercedes Stable, which co-owns Rock Hard Ten, but Orman now trains only three horses for Moody, after having several high-profile runners transferred from his care in recent weeks.

This past weekend, the stakes-class 3-year-old grass horse Laura's Lucky Boy, along with the stakes-class sprinting filly Barbara Orr, were among horses transferred from him to other trainers. Vladimir Cerin now has Laura's Lucky Boy. Jay Robbins has Barbara Orr. Last month, Rock Hard Ten was transferred to Richard Mandella.

"I'll be on my own now, based at Santa Anita," Orman said.

* Belleski, the likely favorite in the closing-day Dahlia Handicap this coming Monday, worked seven furlongs in 1:27 on Monday at Hollywood Park.