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HRN Original Blog:
A New York State of Racing

Vyjack Sweeps to Victory in the Gotham

Since Vyjack won the Jerome (G2) at Aqueduct in January, trainer Rudy Rodriguez has had a plan. The plan included two months between races to allow for a bit of rest from racing, and time to train for a campaign in New York. The plan has been working perfectly as Vyjack remained undefeated in four starts. Vyjack paid $6.70 to win as the second betting choice, so many people expected him to be victorious in the Gotham (G3) today. What was not expected was the explosive stretch run from the Pick Six Racing gelding, after he had dropped far back to eighth place down the backstretch.
 
Rodriguez was asked how he felt when Vyjack was so far behind on a track that had been favoring front-runners all day. He said, “I was hoping to see him that way. That’s why we gave Joel (jockey Rosario) the mount. He was able to relax him and when he asked him to go he did.” 
 
In the time between races, Rodriguez tried to train Vyjack to relax and come from behind.  As a former jockey he frequently gets up on Vyjack in the morning and he commented that, “I put him behind horses a couple times and I couldn’t hold him.”
 
As a matter of fact Rodriguez was a jockey from 1992 to 2011 and in that time he won 221 races and purses of $6.8 million. His biggest victory as a jockey came when he won the 2008 Suburban Handicap on Frost Giant. However as a trainer, he has been spectacular. His first win came in 2010, and since then he has already won 351 times for $12.2 million.
 
The Gotham is part of the Road to the Derby Championship Series and 
for the win, Vyjack earned 50 qualifying points, which is probably enough to get him into the Derby field. Rodriguez talked about his past Derby experience. “I have been to the Kentucky Derby before, once with a horse that I had been galloping in the morning and then as a fan when Barbaro won.”
 
Back to the plans for Vyjack, Rodriguez said, “This is our plan from the beginning, running in the Wood, I have to discuss with the owner. But he’s fresh, we gave him two months off for this race and we’ll get him ready for the next race and I think we are doing a good job.”
 
Regardless of where he runs next the trainer is very confident, “I don’t worry. Trust me I’ve been around a lot of good horses and he’s telling us that he’s a good horse.  I don’t think that we have gotten to the bottom of this horse yet.” 

 

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Older Comments about Vyjack Sweeps to Victory in the Gotham...

Nice win, however, like Normandy Invasion he'll have traffic problems in a twenty horse field. History doesn't favor last to first trips in the KY Derby.
There's a chasm of difference between Aqueduct's inner dirt and other surfaces that he must surmount as well.
If a horse wins against a slow pace, that race means little to noithing if the pace next time out is on par or above.
I'm not too concerned about the low Beyer or the fractions, it looked very easy for Vyjack and I loved the way he kept striding out with his ears pricked after crossing the finish line.
West Hills Giant got me a little bit of coin here. Good race boy
Fractions weren't impressive. It looked impressive because Vyjack exploded pass horses that weren't in the same league as him. Visually deceptive
Mary Z. -- I was watching the race from the rail of the inner track and as the field went by you could hear several jockeys yelling to each other about the rough start. I just watched the head on view and you can really see why. As the outside horses rushed out of the gate to get position into the turn, it was like a funnel. You could see Escapefromreality get bumped hard in the rear end. Standing at the rail you could not tell what the jocks were yelling about.
Visually impressive, will have to look at the fractions, but it was SLOW up front
Congrats to the winner. Any word on how Escapefromreality came out of the race? I still have to watch the replay, but the chart mentions being "clipped from behind".
He certainly was impressive today.
Wow. Beyer usually isn't that kind to closers
UPDATE -- Preliminary BSF of 93 for Vyjack.
Look at that eye in the first photo! *shudders*

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

 

Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

 

The best way to get to know Matt is to check out some of his favorite articles from the past couple years.

   

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