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Aqueduct: Gotham Stakes 1-2-3 set for rematch in Wood Memorial
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.
“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.”
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.”
Did he eat the pills Rudy?
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
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
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.
Nice kick, visually. Another sixteenth looks fine. Rich get richer in the Empire.
New jock for Elnaawi next out. It's difficult to watch Channing Hill ride.
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.