02/03/2009 12:00AM

Mythical Pegasus out to improve on stretchout


NEW ORLEANS - Three-year-old Flying Pegasus will start Saturday in the Grade 3, $200,000 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, but his 4-year-old full brother, Mythical Pegasus, has a more mundane appointment this week as one of seven horses in an entry-level allowance race here Thursday.

Mythical Pegasus is scheduled to start in the eighth race, which will be contested at one mile and 40 yards on dirt. The co-featured ninth is a race at the same class level, but for turf sprinters.

Flying Pegasus and Mythical Pegasus, bred and owned by James Spence and trained by Ralph Nicks, are offspring of Fusaichi Pegasus and the mare Lilly Capote, and both were good 2-year-olds. Mythical Pegasus finished third in the 2007 edition of the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont, while Flying Pegasus was second in the same race last fall.

But the fact that Mythical Pegasus is one month into his 4-year-old season yet remains eligible for a first-level allowance speaks to his interrupted development. He hasn't won since a Saratoga maiden race in August 2007, and makes his second start Thursday after a layoff of almost a year. Still, Mythical Pegasus's comeback run was solid, a third-place finish in a turf sprint.

"Coming off a pretty serious injury, I was just looking to get a race into him," Nicks said. "Not that I'm trying to make a grass horse out of him, but I think with a clean trip, he might have won."

Mythical Pegasus and Flying Pegasus "could pass for twins" to look at their faces, Nicks said, but the 4-year-old is significantly larger than his brother. Both horses remain unproven beyond sprint distances, but Nicks thinks Mythical Pegasus can stretch out. He figures to show speed Thursday and could wind up part of a quick pace.

Several others merit consideration, chief among them Our Dancer, who finished second and third in two similar races this Fair Grounds meet. Our Dancer hasn't started since Dec. 18, but that sends out a positive vibe. Cody Autrey trains Our Dancer, and he spots horses hyper-aggressively. The fact Our Dancer holds firm at the allowance level after winning for a $25,000 claiming price in November hints at a top effort forthcoming.

Fort Apache exits the same turf sprint as Mythical Pegasus, and though he ran poorly returning from an eight-month layoff, his dirt form about a year ago at Fair Grounds was strong. Blackberry Road will attempt for the 14th time to win the second race of his career.