03/01/2005 1:00AM

Quite a Charismatic colt

Andromeda's Hero, winning the Sam F. Davis, is from the first crop of Fusaichi Pegasus and is out of Marozia.

LAS VEGAS - Charismatic, sire of Kentucky Derby hopeful Sun King, was a late-blooming son of Summer Squall who developed quickly in the spring of his 3-year-old season, winning three straight stakes - the Lexington, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness - before finishing third on a broken leg in the Belmont. Despite being a champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year in 1999, he was not given much of a chance at stud in this country and was exported to Japan, which like Europe and Australasia, appreciates stamina in pedigrees.

Charismatic won once in seven starts at 2, and he was not expected to sire fast and precocious 2-year-olds. When his first crop of juveniles failed to be competitive early, it was the same old story: American breeders, looking for that ever-quick return on their investment, quickly lost interest in Charismatic.

Now, along comes Sun King, who performed well at 2 and looked very much like a Triple Crown contender after his authoritative victory Saturday in a one-mile allowance at Gulfstream Park. As far as 3-year-old debuts go, Sun King's was a pip, and trainer Nick Zito could not have asked for a better return race. Sun King was certainly among last year's best juveniles, finishing a close third in both the Champagne Stakes and Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Saturday, facing promising but less accomplished rivals Survivalist and Monarch Lane, Sun King showed his superiority in the stretch to win by 5 3/4 lengths over Survivalist, with Monarch Lane a tired third, another 2 3/4 lengths back. Sun King will next prep in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 19.

In addition to inheriting stamina from Charismatic, Sun King gets his speed from his damsire, Clever Trick, a renowned source of speed. More importantly, Sun King comes from a female family loaded with class. He is a half-brother to Traitor (by Cryptoclearance), who captured the 1996 Futurity Stakes; Ocean Drive (Belong to Me), a multiple stakes winner at 2, 3, and 4; Clever Bertie (Timeless Native), the dam of stakes winners Hurricane Bertie and Allamerican Bertie; and Artful Pleasure (Nasty and Bold), the dam of stakes winner Peeping Tom.

Andromeda's Hero's beautifully bred

While Sun King was winning his 3-year-old debut, another Zito trainee served notice he may be a colt to watch on the Triple Crown trail. Andromeda's Hero, among the best-bred colts of his generation, won the at Tampa Bay Downs in his fourth career start despite a troubled trip and disadvantageous outside post.

One of a handful of exciting runners from the first crop of Fusaichi Pegasus (along with Roman Ruler and Bandini), it appears the sky is the limit for Andromeda's Hero, who comes from a prominent female family that has produced some of the most recognizable names in the sport.

Andromeda's Hero is out of Marozia (Storm Bird), a modest winner of just one race from nine starts in England. But like so many fillies who were either unraced or ordinary on the track, her pedigree automatically gave her a license to be special in the breeding shed.

Andromeda's Hero's second dam is Make Change (Roberto), a stakes winner who was one of the best fillies of her generation. As a 3-year-old in 1988, Make Change lost photos to Maplejinsky in the Alabama Stakes and Monmouth Oaks, and also finished second in the Mother Goose Stakes and Ladies Handicap and third in the Coaching Club American Oaks, Bonnie Miss Stakes, and Ruffian, Gazelle and Long Look handicaps.

The next dam, Equal Change (Arts and Letters), raced only eight times, but her second to Ruffian in the final victory, Equal Change chased Ruffian through 24-second quarter-mile splits and went after the great undefeated amazon on the far turn entering the stretch. Ruffian pulled away and won by 2 3/4 lengths, but Equal Change continued on with great courage and finished nine lengths ahead of third-place finisher Let Me Linger.

Equal Change was a full sister to No Duplicate and half-sister to stakes winners Solford (Nijinsky II) and No Bias (Jacinto). Their unraced dam, Fairness (Cavan), was out of Equal Venture, a full sister to 1946 Triple Crown winner Assault.

Examining the tail-female family (dam, dam's dam, dam's granddam, etc.) reveals the class of the animal, and although the fifth dam may not have as much influence as the first dam, it is the entire female line that unlocks the secrets of class. In that vein, it is remarkable to note that Andromeda's Hero's eighth dam is Masda, a full sister to Man o' War.