Updated on 09/15/2011 12:40PM

A new tongue twister in town


DEL MAR, Calif. - Get out your pronounciation gazetteer from last year. The same connections who brought you Fusaichi Pegasus, the 2000 Kentucky Derby winner, have returned to trip tongues nationwide with Fusaichi Zenon, a rare Japanese import who makes his first start for trainer Neil Drysdale in Thursday's feature race at Del Mar.

The feature goes as the seventh on an eight-race card. It is a 1 1/8-mile optional claiming turf race for classified grass runners, or horses entered to be claimed for $100,000. Seven are entered, but fewer are expected to run. Drysdale also entered Tanaasa, but on Tuesday morning Drysdale said he was "not sure" whether Tanaasa would start.

Fusaichi Zenon, however, is a go for his first start since March. The 4-year-old colt is by Sunday Silence, the 1989 Horse of the Year who has been a sensation in the breeding shed in Japan. Fusaichi Zenon was bred by Teruya Yoshida's Shadai Farm on the island of Hokkaido in Japan, and Yoshida now owns the colt in partnership with Fusao Sekiguchi, who owned Fusaichi Pegasus.

Sekiguchi uses Fusaichi as the first name for all his horses. He came up with the word by combining the first four letters of his first name - Fusa - with the Japanese word "ichi," which translates to "the best." Last year, Fusaichi Pegasus's name was mispronounced so often that some verbally challenged fans simply called him "FuPeg." To keep from calling this latest import "FuZen," here's a way to help you remember how to say his name. Repeat after us: Foo-sah-ee-chee. So simple.

Fusaichi Zenon won three of the first four starts of his career, but ran poorly twice earlier this year after returning from an 11-month layoff. He was then sent to Drysdale.

"He had knee surgery last year, but they were already planning on sending him over before he had his two races earlier this year," Drysdale said at his Del Mar barn on Tuesday morning. "Mr. Sekiguchi wants to participate in the United States."

Asked if he thought Fusaichi Zenon had a chance to be top-class in this country, Drysdale, said, "I hope so."

"He's training very well," Drysdale said. "Japanese horses have been holding their own in England, France, Hong Kong. Their form holds up well."

Quianlong, who has finished in the money in 11 straight races and comes off a fine third-place finish against a strong classified allowance field at Hollywood Park on June 14, looks the best of those with recent form.

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