03/02/2013 6:23PM

Aqueduct: Vyjack stays undefeated in Gotham

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Tom Keyser
Vyjack rallied from far back under Joel Rosario to win the Gotham and improve his record to 4 for 4.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - David Wilkenfeld wasn’t alive in the pick six at Aqueduct following Saturday’s Gotham Stakes - he said he didn’t play - but his dreams of the Kentucky Derby were certainly alive and well after the race.

Wilkenfeld, whose stable is named Pick Six Racing, owns Vyjack, who showed a new dimension by rallying from next-to-last in a field of 11 to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham Stakes to remain undefeated in four career starts.

Perhaps more importantly, Vyjack earned 50 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby, which will be run May 4 at Churchill Downs.

“The way he ran today he showed he’s the real deal,” said Wilkenfeld, who named the gelding after his parents Vivienne and Jack. “We always thought he’d do good going long. I think he proved that today.”

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

Vyjack had won his three previous starts - including the Grade 2 Jerome on Jan. 5 - from on or near the lead. Saturday, he was next to last, about seven lengths behind after the opening half-mile before launching a five-wide rally in the stretch under Joel Rosario that propelled him to a 2 3/4-length victory over the pacesetting West Hills Giant. It was a half-length back to Elnaawi in third.

He was followed in the order of finish by Siete de Oros, Overanalyze (the 8-5 favorite), Transparent, Amerigo Vespucci, Champion Boy, Escapefromreality, Sky Captain, and Ore Pass. Now and Then scratched.

Vyjack, a gelding by Into Mischief, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.09 and returned $6.70 as the second choice.

Wilkenfeld races under the moniker Pick Six Racing because of his success hitting that wager. In 2008, he had the sole winning ticket of a pick six at Santa Anita that paid $3.3 million. He said he did not play Saturday’s pick six at Aqueduct, which had a $113,159 carryover entering the day. The pick-six paid $4,999 to 67 winning tickets.

The pick six Saturday might have paid a lot more had 33-1 West Hills Giant held on.There was an objection lodged against West Hills Giant and rider Jose Espinoza by Channing Hill, the rider of third-place finisher Elnaawi for interference soon after the start, but it was disallowed.

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

Vyjack was ridden by Rosario for the first time because Wilkenfeld felt that Cornelio Velasquez was not a good fit for the gelding because he needed to relax more. Rosario had no problem getting Vyjack to relax on Saturday.

“He broke OK, and I didn’t want to get in a hurry,” Rosario said. “I just let him do whatever he wanted. He was pretty far behind, but that’s where he wanted to be. He passed [West Hills Giant] and then he just kept on going.”

Rudy Rodriguez, the trainer of Vyjack, had been working with the gelding in the morning to get him to relax.

“I tell Joel don’t move too soon - let him do his race,” Rodriguez said. “He was able to relax. We were able to work with him in the morning; looks like we did a good job so far.”

Wilkenfeld said Vyjack would run back in the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on April 6.

John Terranova, the trainer of West Hills Giant, said his New York-bred would likely run back in that race as well.

West Hills Giant was attempting two turns on dirt for the first time and did well to hold second after setting the pace under Jose Espinoza.

“Jose rode him fantastic, he just got a little green in the stretch, I might need to close up his blinkers a little bit,” Terranova said. “He was leaning in looking around a little bit at the eighth pole; he got a little lost out there.”

The biggest disappointment of the race was Overanalyze, who was sitting a good fourth in the second flight of horses down the backside, but offered no punch down the lane and finished fifth.

“The first part of the race he was in perfect position - whatever I asked he was right there,” jockey John Velazquez said. “When we got to the three-eighths pole he let go. I tried to put him back into the race. He just went through the motions.”