03/03/2013 6:39PM

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.

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

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.”

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

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.”

Arlene Factor More than 1 year ago
edgar is and has always been great big fan of anything he rides
BrandonLayer More than 1 year ago
He's my pick for the Blue Grass already. Gulfstream turf to Keeneland poly is a very strong angle. Especially in routes. Dullahan, Brilliant Speed, Stately Victor...
Dave More than 1 year ago
Hard to get excited about 3yo turf horses at this time of year. But how can it hurt to take a shot at the Blue Grass?
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
This horse has a beautiful running style. He really stretches out when asked.
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
After reading the article and other comments, it's nice to see I'm not the only one that noticed his style. Beautiful.
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
I am officially in love with this horse! Just watched the whole clip to see him closeup and oh my goodness! He has a head and neck VERY similar to Secretariat!! swoon
Don Passidomo More than 1 year ago
Nice to see Reporting Star and Circular Quay youngster run even with Charming Kitten just missing second, like this one to stay on turf, CK is top class, proven
Alex More than 1 year ago
I don't think this horse has a shot in a race like the Derby. But I respect Gary a lot for what he did with the old warrior Iron Gavel.
George Sudduth More than 1 year ago
I don't agree
Jason Kassa More than 1 year ago
His quality will be the deciding factor, not the surface IMO. His tactical speed in this slow-early...fast-late race helped him get a smooth trip today. Leaves a lot of class questions open. But he looked nice, and looks to want 10 furlongs.
Joel Winicki More than 1 year ago
He's bred to handle any surface, and run all day. With a stride like that......he's definitely on my KD short-list.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
Agreed, agreed, agreed.
Trent More than 1 year ago
Anyone here talking about how his turf form means nothing on dirt remember a horse named Animal Kingdom? Ran in an AOC at Gulfstream on the turf before winning the Spiral? I think you probably all remember the rest. I'm not saying he's the next Animal Kingdom, but it's not unheard of for a horse to have good form on both surfaces. Especially if they can transition by running on the poly.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
Not to mention Barbaro.
Mine thatbird More than 1 year ago
Even Big Brown for that matter.
james More than 1 year ago
Notice that all three of the horses mentioned won from 2006 on. All of Mine That Bird's 2yo victories were on poly also I believe. You could even throw in Street Sense who had two starts on poly on two and one at three prior to the Derby. I'm starting to think its a trend. The only horse to win the Derby without a start on a synthetic track or turf since Barbaro is Super Saver. Of course synthetic surfaces have only been around for a few years, so it may mean nothing.
avlamal More than 1 year ago
why put him in that meat grinder makes zero sense keep him on the turf a rake in easy wins thats what woodie would do he saw the competition and went the other way with horses like smarten and gone west and two punch gary will end up selling this one anyway-who r u people kidding