03/12/2011 9:28PM

San Felipe: Premier Pegasus romps to earn berth in Santa Anita Derby

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BENOIT PHOTO
Jockey Alsonso Qunonez ends a 69-race losing streak by cruising home in the San Felipe aboard Premier Pegasus.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Premier Pegasus took a seemingly wide-open San Felipe Stakes and turned it into a tour de force on Saturday at Santa Anita, romping to a 7 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2, $250,000 race that serves as the final major prep for next month’s Santa Anita Derby.

Premier Pegasus ($16.60) rocketed past Comma to the Top soon after turning into the stretch, then poured it on, recording the widest victory margin in the history of the race. Jaycito, the 2-1 favorite, rallied from ninth in the 10-horse field to finish second, with the previously unbeaten Bench Points third.

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Comma to the Top, part of a sizzling early pace, ran well to hold fourth. The other two horses who were part of that pace, Albergatti and Runflatout, faded badly and were the last two across the line.

Premier Pegasus completed 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:41.23. The cause of the first three finishers was aided by the race shape, with the three pacesetters going off in 21.75 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 44.58 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:08.98 for six furlongs.

Premier Pegasus was bred, is trained, and is owned by Myong Kwon Cho, 68, a native of Korea who owns a Los Angeles-based clothing export business but trains with the help of assistants Maria Ayala and Rafael Martinez. His son Raxon, 17, is also keenly involved in the operation. Cho has 10 horses, all of whom he owns and trains, including another promising 3-year-old, Riveting Reason.

But this day belonged to Premier Pegasus. The San Felipe marked his first start around two turns. He had won his first three starts before finishing third most recently behind the top sprinters The Factor and Sway Away in last month’s San Vicente Stakes.

“He’s not a sprinter,” Cho said.

Premier Pegasus wore blinkers in his first four starts, but they were removed for this race.

“We were thinking it would make him relax a little bit more,” Raxon Cho said.


The victory ended a 69-race, four-week losing streak for jockey Alonso Quinonez. He had not won since Feb. 13.

“The horses were flying on the lead during the first part of the race and I knew they were going to come back to the field,” Quinonez said.

Premier Pegasus is by Fusaichi Pegasus, the 2000 Kentucky Derby winner. Cho said he would come back in the Santa Anita Derby.