03/03/2013 7:39PM

Gulfstream Park: Rydilluc earns shot at Kentucky Derby after dominant Palm Beach win

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Kenny Martin
Rydilluc wins the Palm Beach Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Can you say Derby Fever?

It’s certainly hard to blame trainer Gary Contessa and the connections of Rydilluc if they don’t start getting a little excited over the prospects of putting their 3-year-old on the Kentucky Derby trail after his eye-catching 3 1/2-length victory over Charming Kitten in Sunday’s $150,000 Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park.

With Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado orchestrating a perfect trip for Rydilluc, the son of Medaglia d’Oro stalked the pace of longshot Dad’z Laugh, took the lead at will on the second turn, and then drew off impressively to his third consecutive one-sided victory on the grass.

Charming Kitten, winner of the Kitten’s Joy Stakes in his 3-year-old debut, took up the chase approaching the stretch but proved no match for the winner while outgaming Reporting Star by a neck to finish second in the 11-horse Palm Beach field.

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Rydilluc paid $6.20 after covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.18 over a firm turf course. The win completed a big weekend for Prado who also captured the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride on Saturday with Kitten’s Point.

“That was beautiful,” Contessa said. “You see what he looks like turning for home, with the stride he’s got, he’s just an amazing horse.”

Contessa said he’ll give Rydilluc one chance to earn his way into the Kentucky Derby later this spring.

“I think we’ve got to go Spiral or Blue Grass and take a shot,” Contessa said. “He’s nominated to the Spiral and nominated to the Blue Grass, and I’ve followed a lot of horses who did this, turf to Poly then showed up in the Derby. So we’re not going to rule it out.”

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The Spiral will be run at Turfway Park on March 23, the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 13.

“The Spiral comes up in just 20 days, so he’d have to be kicking the walls down, if not we’ll just wait for the Blue Grass.”