03/25/2002 12:00AM

Sunday Break set for next test


JAMAICA, N.Y. - It's early spring and trainer Neil Drysdale is at Aqueduct overseeing a bay 3-year-old colt owned by a Japanese businessman.

If that sounds familiar, the sense of deja vu could become downright scary if Sunday Break does what is expected and solidifies his status as a classics prospect in Wednesday's sixth race.

The 1 1/8-mile, $50,000 allowance is named the Fusaichi Pegasus, and it drew a field of six sophomores, including the Todd Pletcher-trained entry of Tomahawk Lake and the stakes-placed Smoked Em. All eyes will be on Sunday Break, a son of Forty Niner who breaks from post 2 and figures to be odds-on under regular rider Gary Stevens.

The similarities between 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus and Sunday Break, owned by Koji Maeda, are considerable to this point in their careers, though, to Drysdale's relief, Sunday Break has none of Fusaichi Pegasus's behavioral idiosyncrasies. "This guy's pretty straightforward," he said.

Both are crosses of the Raise a Native and Northern Dancer sire lines. Both began their 3-year-old campaigns at Santa Anita, winning their maiden and entry-level allowance races back to back by open lengths. But while Fusaichi Pegasus won the San Felipe in mid-March and then became the favorite for the Derby with a dominating victory in the Wood Memorial, Sunday Break would be making his stakes debut in the Wood, which is already expected to draw Medaglia D'oro, Mayakovsky, Saarland, Buddha, and Blue Burner on April 13.

"I don't think we'll know where Sunday Break fits until he meets group company," the ever-conservative Drysdale cautioned. "He needs a bit more seasoning."

Sunday Break got the feel of the main track on Saturday by working an easy five-eighths in 1:03.57 in company with Spectacularspencer, an older multiple allowance winner trained by Richard Dutrow Jr.

As of Monday afternoon the Weather Channel was forecasting an 80 percent chance of rain for Tuesday, and showers were expected to remain in the New York area on Wednesday. But if Sunday Break is to make the Derby he must make the Wood, and if he is to make the Wood he must stay on schedule. Will he run if the track is wet?

"Yes," said Drysdale, leaving it at that.

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