04/14/2013 6:05PM

Kentucky Derby: Vyjack's trip to Churchill Downs delayed while Rodriguez applies for license

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Tom Keyser
Vyjack, shown winning the Gotham Stakes, remains at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, where he has been undergoing therapy to help a respiratory ailment.

Vyjack, the multiple graded stakes winning 3-year-old and Kentucky Derby candidate, has been based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland for several days, in part to take advantage of that facility’s hyperbaric chamber to aid with the gelding’s respiratory issues.

The original plan called for Vyjack to return to New York in time to catch a Sunday flight to Kentucky along with Wood Memorial 1-2 finishers Verrazano and Normandy Invasion.

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

But, Rudy Rodriguez does not yet have a license to train in Kentucky and therefore his horses are not allowed on the grounds until he gets one. Rodriguez is scheduled to meet on Tuesday with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which requested he appear before it in light of two medication positives for which he has served a suspension and the report of a third one pending.

 On Sunday, Rodriguez attempted to enter the 3-year-old filly Kelli Got Frosty in Thursday’s $100,000 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland. According to Rodriguez, the entry was initially accepted by the Keeneland racing office. However, 30 minutes later, Rodriguez said he received a call that the entry was rejected. Keeneland officials confirmed Rodriguez’s story.

 Rodriguez said a van taking Kelli Got Frosty had already left Aqueduct and he had to call the driver to tell him to return.

“That was kind of disappointing,” Rodriguez said Sunday afternoon from Fair Hill. “They said no trainer could go on the grounds if they don’t have a license.”

Meanwhile, if and when Rodriguez can ship Vyjack to Kentucky won’t be decided until Tuesday when Rodriguez meets with Kentucky racing officials.

 Vyjack, winner of the Grade 2 Jerome and Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct, came out of his third-place finish in the April 6 Wood Memorial with a respiratory issue. A couple of days later he was vanned to Fair Hill, where he has spent about an hour a day for several days in a hyperbaric chamber.

Horses in a hyperbaric chamber breathe pure oxygen under pressure and it gets delivered to any damaged cells to help heal and repair the diseased or injured tissues.

Vyjack has also been training over the dirt surface at Fair Hill and will likely have a workout there late in the week or next weekend, Rodriguez said.

 “The horse is doing very good,” Rodriguez said.

 As for himself, Rodriguez has been driving back and forth from New York to Fair Hill constantly. He had a family member’s First Communion on Saturday and he was back at Fair Hill on Sunday morning to get on Vyjack. He was to get on Vyjack Monday morning and drive to New York for his own daughter’s First Communion before driving back to Fair Hill on Monday night so he could get on Vyjack early Tuesday morning. Later Tuesday morning he has to fly to Kentucky.

 “I think I’ll be okay. I don’t think I got that big of a problem,” Rodriguez said when asked if he feared not getting a license. “This is what I’ve been doing all my life.

 “I don’t have any regrets. Everything is good. Everything is beautiful. I’m not afraid to work. I’m going to keep working hard and hopefully my horses keep running good,” he concluded.