03/22/2013 1:57PM

Wood Memorial: Vyjack sizzles in Aqueduct workout


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Maybe it was a result of being matched up with a graded stakes-winning sprinter. Maybe it was the result of his connections wanting to do a little more with him. Or maybe it was simply a result of just how good Vyjack is doing right now.

Whatever it was, Vyjack, the undefeated 3-year-old, turned in a sensational five-furlong workout Friday morning at Aqueduct in preparation for a start in the $1 million Wood Memorial here on April 6.

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

Working in company for the first time with Head Heart Hoof, a 7-year-old New York-bred who has won 18 races, including the Grade 3 Toboggan, Vyjack drilled five furlongs in 59.07 seconds, getting his final quarter in a sharp 22.84. Vyjack, coming off a 2 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 2, typically doesn’t work fast, having never broken a minute in any of his previous five-furlong works.

“It was time to do something and he did,” Gustavo Rodriguez, aboard for the work, said.

Vyjack began the move two lengths behind Head Heart Hoof and finished a half-length in front at the wire before pulling away during the gallop out. Vyjack galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.37 and pulled up seven furlongs in 1:27.84.

Head Heart Hoof, third in the Grade 3 Tom Fool on March 2, was credited with a time of 59.72 seconds. He is entered in a starter handicap here next Thursday.

Gustavo Rodriguez, who is running the stable while his brother Rudy serves a 20-day suspension, was the one who decided to match Vyjack with Head Heart Hoof, wanting Vyjack to get something out of the move. Last week, Vyjack worked an easy half-mile in 51.23 seconds.

“He worked with other horses. Nobody can keep up with him,” Rodriguez said of Vyjack. “I thought it was going to be a good match for him to do a little something.”

Rodriguez did urge Vyjack to get past the veteran Head Heart Hoof but he was far from having to go all out.

“I was just chasing the other one. Turning for home I asked him for a little bit and he responded nice,” Rodriguez said. “And he galloped nice, beautiful, strong.”

David Wilkenfeld, who owns Vyjack under the moniker Pick Six Racing, watched the workout from the Aqueduct press box and liked what he saw.

“Usually after the work he waits on the other horse,” Wilkenfeld said. “It look liked today he kept going. They had [the last quarter] in 22-and-change. That’s really nice to see.”

Rodriguez said that Vyjack would likely have one more work before the Wood, a race that is expected to include the undefeated and early Derby favorite Verrazano. Others pointing to the race include Gotham second- and third-place finishers West Hills Giant and Elnaawi, Remsen runner-up Normandy Invasion,  Always in a Tiz, Mr Palmer, Indy’s Illusion, Quinzieme Monarque, and possibly Siete de Oros.