12/31/2012 3:33PM

Aqueduct: Jerome a two-turn testing ground for Vyjack

Barbara D. Livingston
The New York-bred stakes winner Notacatbutallama (above) is one of Vyjack's opponents in the Jerome.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – With two solid sprint races under his belt, Vyjack will try to prove himself around two turns when he runs in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome Stakes for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct.

The Jerome, run the past two years in late April after having previously been held during Belmont’s fall meet, was moved to this spot on the calendar to replace the Count Fleet, which had been a listed race for $100,000. Though the Jerome does not offer qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby, it kicks off a lucrative program for 3-year-olds eyeing the Triple Crown races. The Jerome leads to the $200,000 Withers on Feb. 2, the $400,000 Gotham on March 3, and the $1 million Wood Memorial on April 6.

Vyjack, a son of Into Mischief, won his maiden by 1 3/4 lengths going 6 1/2 furlongs over Aqueduct’s main track Nov. 10. He came back four weeks later to win the four-horse Traskwood Stakes at seven furlongs by 5 3/4 lengths in the slop.

“We’re very happy with Vyjack, the way he’s coming to the race,” trainer Rudy Rodriguez said Monday. “It’s a little quick back and a couple of horses in there look very good, but it looks like he took his race very good and we’ll find out what we got.”

Rodriguez doesn’t feel that a two-turn mile and 70-yard race will be out of Vyjack’s reach given his size and scope.

“He’s a nice-looking, big horse, so I think he’ll be okay going long,” Rodriguez said.

Vyjack will break for post 2 under Cornelio Velasquez.

Vyjack’s competition will include recent maiden winners Long River and Mudflats. Mudflats is making his first start since being purchased privately by Little Red Feather Racing and transferred to Doug O’Neill.

Long River breaks from post 3 under Irad Ortiz Jr., while Mudflats has post 6 and Junior Alvarado.

The New York-bred Notacatbutallama, who won two stakes on turf before finishing second in the Damon Runyon in the slop, gets another try on the dirt for trainer Todd Pletcher. He worked four furlongs in 50.54 seconds Monday over the Belmont training track.

Vegas No Show won the Dover Stakes and was the runner-up in the Grade 2 Nashua before running ninth in the Remsen. He worked four furlongs in 50.04 seconds on Monday and will have blinkers removed from his equipment by trainer Kelly Breen.

The others entered are Siete de Oros, Amerigo Vespucci, and James Jingle.

Rodriguez has player in Busanda

Rodriguez also entered Kiss the Lady in Saturday’s $100,000 Busanda Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Kiss the Lady won a six-furlong maiden race by two lengths Nov. 11, but has the pedigree to suggest she should handle a two-turn mile and 70-yard race. Her dam, Minizig, is a half-sister to Jim Dandy Stakes winner A Little Warm. Colonial Minstrel, a multiple two-turn stakes winner, also is in the pedigree.

“That’s why we’re taking the chance,” Rodriguez said.

Princes of Sylmar is 2 for 2 around two turns, including an allowance win over the inner track Dec. 13. She will break from the rail under Rajiv Margh.

Completing the field are Asiya, an 11-length winner sprinting, Ruby Lips, By Golly Molly, and Coconut Shrimp.