03/03/2013 1:40PM

Aqueduct: Gotham Stakes 1-2-3 set for rematch in Wood Memorial

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Michael Amoruso
Vyjack, with Joel Rosario riding, wins the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Vyjack, West Hills Giant, and Elnaawi – the top three finishers from Saturday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct – all came out of the race in good order and are expected to meet again in the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial here April 6.

Meanwhile, Overanalyze, beaten 4 1/4 lengths when finishing fifth as the Gotham favorite, came out of the race sound, according to trainer Todd Pletcher. Overanalyze was due to arrive in south Florida by 1 p.m. Sunday, and Pletcher said he would see how the horse trains in the next few weeks before mapping out a game plan.

At Aqueduct, trainer Rudy Rodriguez was still beaming about how well Vyjack performed Saturday and how he was doing Sunday morning. Vyjack ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.09 and earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.

“He looks like he came back good, he ate everything last night,” Rodriguez said in his barn office Sunday morning. “Good. Happy. Walked around very proud of himself. We’re happy, too, that’s for sure.”

Rodriguez was particularly pleased with how well Vyjack relaxed in the early stages of the Gotham. He was next-to-last early under new rider Joel Rosario and raced about four to five wide down the backstretch before rallying five to six wide in the stretch. And he did it on a surface that was playing kind to horses sitting closer to the pace.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

“I was looking for him to run that way, taking dirt in the face and everything because we’ve been working with him like that,” said Rodriguez, who trains Vyjack for David Wilkenfeld’s Pick Six Racing. “He’s the type of horse you grab him he wants to go, go, go.”

Vyjack actually broke a step slow, something that probably helped him avoid some crowding that went on entering the first turn. It prompted Rosario to have to take the gelding a bit wide entering the first turn.

Though Vyjack is now 4 for 4 and has won from  6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, Rodriguez believes that Vyjack has more to offer.

“He don’t even know what he’s doing yet,” Rodriguez said. “I think he’s still got more. He’s nice, big, strong. Hopefully, he keeps growing and keeps learning, but we were very ,very impressed what he did yesterday that’s for sure. Wide on both turns and circled the field.”

West Hills Giant, who set the pace before settling for second, lived up to his connections’ expectations, even if he was dismissed by the bettors at 33-1. He set the pace in the Gotham before settling for second, a half-length in front of Elnaawi.

“The horse had been training really well, we definitely expected him to step up yesterday,” said Tonja Terranova, assistant to her husband John. “We thought he was going to run really well, we were happy that he did exactly what we thought he was going to do. We’re definitely going to point for the Wood.”

[DERBY WATCH: Top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders with odds and video]

Elnaawi, making his first start after a maiden win, got bumped entering the first turn and also raced wide, but stayed on well to finish third, outfinishing Siete de Oros by a neck.

“Really happy with the run, improving horse, a lot of horses had it a little tight into the first turn that’s for sure,” said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “We ended up a little wide, but I don’t think Channing [Hill] could have done anything different. It was a good education for him.”

Pletcher said that Velazquez had to use Overanalyze to get his attending position entering the first turn, but it was nothing that should have impacted his performance.

“When Johnny needed a little more response, he ran very even through the lane,” Pletcher said. “He didn’t get beat bad, but still didn’t have the punch down the lane that we were looking for.”

Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Did he eat the pills Rudy?
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
I agree tom mallios. Vyjack was impressive. I said goin into the race I was gonna bet him but changed my mind.I thought he would get into a speed duel and and set it up for elnawi but I was wrong. He's versatile and that's good that he can win without being on the front end. Versatility is good to have for the kentucky derby. Itsmyluckyday, vyjack goldencents and revolutionary r the 3 best 3yr olds I've seen this yr. We'll c if it was the layoff y shanghai bobby lost when he runs in the Florida derby
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
Do anybody knows when uncaptured is gonna race again and try to qualify for kentucky derby. I know he have 2wins at churchill but he last raced in November. That's an awful long layoff. I know he ran 7 times at 2 and won 6 but he need to get pts to qualify
Wesley Wright More than 1 year ago
Agree; if his connections want to to be in the Derby they better have him ready to race very soon. That's why I am liking the new points system more and more.
Tom Mallios More than 1 year ago
to those who say vyjack beat nothing and is in trouble in the wood.please , please tell me who is going to show up that should scare him.revolutionary who won in pedestrian time.normandy invasion who even though had a poor start did not hit the board and lost o a horse that paid more than $200. enough of the sour grapes and he only runs in N.Y. .that was by design.they wanted to keep him here under the hands on operation of rudy rodriguez.people talk elnaawi had a rough trip.newsflash people.vyjack was behind him,when he blew by him in the stretch he did not interfere with him.that was the just turbo power blowing by a horse.can the others improve.absolutely.i will not critisize the others.that is not fair to their connections.i may be biased because my close friend owns vyjack.regardless,he ran a 93 beyer fig.i personally do not use them.but to those who do,that is the pure speed number.he was 4 wide the 1rst turn and 6 wide the 2nd turn.he carried 123 lbs and spotted the field 7 lbs and won for fun.with all those variables in ground loss add another 10-12 pts.the true fig should be 105.also do not now think he is a deep closer.he just needs to relax and be placed in a comfortable spot..so please stop with the sour grapes he beat nobody.using your words ,he did not beatnobodys'.he destryed them
Mark More than 1 year ago
Good luck.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Let the horse speak for you. Have fun.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Destroyed ? Ill take kiaran next out as i did in gotham. Plenty more upside to him imo. Good luck!
Mark More than 1 year ago
I know you watched the gallop out... beware....
Tom Mallios More than 1 year ago
why are you so impressed with gallop out.his race was so so.you are measured by that,not how you gallop out.those are just lame excuses for losers
Mark More than 1 year ago
He is a race or two from figuring it out. So much upside. Trainer breeding longer distances. Haven't seen anything near his top yet imo. That is all. Like i said. Vyjack isa nice nice horse. Imo. Just not one I am sold on as a derby winner.
Tom Mallios More than 1 year ago
dont mean to burst your bubble.we are not looking to impress the public.let them sell him short.i got 49-1 on him in first futures huge.as far as the public opinion goes.who cares if they think he can get distance.overanalyze was supposed to destroy him
Mark More than 1 year ago
Please explain then why you are on here trying to do just that? You are trying to impress us by continuing to mention its your buddies horse ,he destroyed the field you got 49-1 in futures etc etc etc.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Revolutionay pedestrian time ? Easy buddy. Your losing any credibility you may have to begin with with your already biased opinion . That was the most horrific and troubled winning trip on the dirt i have seen maybe ever. That horse may just destroy your inner dirt specialist next out. Lol. Seriously though.
Tom Mallios More than 1 year ago
a statement like that means you started following racing jan 1, 2013. are you serious or delirious.what rough trip,he weaved in a little.if he had jets in him,he would of fired wide like vyjack.javy was empty.had to save all the ground to beat that cheap schetenko ny bred
Mark More than 1 year ago
Total respect for the owner and the success he as achieved as a handicapper and now as an owner. Good luck to him Hope his horse remains healthy.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Funny thing is i said from beginning i think vyjack is a nice horse. That i used him in gotham with elnaawi as my key who i bet wp and in exacta with vyjack and pletcher . I also said i vyjack is not one ill be looking to play going forward as the waters get deeper. Thats when you lost your mind.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Everything i said after to explain why i like others you didnt want to hear. We will all see come may.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Forget the Wood Memorial. All contestants are coming from the same weak Aqueduct races. I don't doubt he wins that but he ain't no Derby winner beating these donkeys.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
That includes Revolutionary.
Albert More than 1 year ago
As I said earlier, it was a visually impressive win. However, it was on the inner track and it was a sprinters move down the lane against a bunch of horses that were pretty awful and were running very slowly at that point. I hope he wins the Wood the same way and that you bring plenty of money to Louisville. I also hope to relieve you of some of that money.
michael More than 1 year ago
Inner track races have no legit bearing on KD.
aaronrayk More than 1 year ago
Watch out for Elnaawi in the Wood, broke awkward, squeezed in between horses, was forced to drop back--all in the early parts of the race. Came with a good run to get 3rd. This was his first time w/ Lasix on, if he breaks good in the Wood and sits a clean trip, you better watch out.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Agreed 100% I played him in this race thinking he was ready. His 2nd race was STRONG. Take a look at the replay. He went from a 15 to a 10 on the Sheets and certainly will show up better from this race. Vyjak's first three races were all 7's showing no signs of getting better. Vyjak remains the same horse beating the same horses. Elnaawi takes another step forward and he may embarrass this undefeated colt.
Dave More than 1 year ago
Agree, very impressed with Elnaawi. He was supposed to be in a nW1X a few weeks ago but it snowed. So I think the connections knew he was going to need this one. More distance and a better trip and he could definitely win the Wood.
Infinity More than 1 year ago
Nice kick, visually. Another sixteenth looks fine. Rich get richer in the Empire.
Alex More than 1 year ago
New jock for Elnaawi next out. It's difficult to watch Channing Hill ride.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
That was definitely the last time Hill rides him. His next race is for a Derby spot. Top Flight.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Ooh exciting. These Aqueduct stakes have all been extremely weak. I don't know how much any of you out there were watching but that race was Elnaawi's. Vyjak cut him off in deep stretch(which I thought the Objection was for). Look at Elnaawi's first 2 races and then watch the Gotham replay. He was taking that step forward yesterday. Don't be shocked if be rolls these suckers in the Wood.
joseph More than 1 year ago
sounds like sour grapes to me!!!
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Ill say it again, watch his races then pay homage to your weak runner. Elnaawi is not my choice for anything but he appears to be figuring it out at the right time
JOHN More than 1 year ago
Sore loser... Vyjack was MUCH the best
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Then you, my friend are running with blinkers on.
michael More than 1 year ago
If theree was interference, and I dont doubt you, these Jocks need to call it out. Rarely are objections made unless major infractions are obvious.