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Kentucky Derby Update: Aqueduct is Heating Up

Vyjack, Joel Rosario up, wins the 2013 GIII Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Or maybe Vyjack is the only horse responsible for keeping Aqueduct this hot. His dynamic come from behind victory in the G3 Gotham Stakes extends his undefeated streak to four. Vyjack has only raced at Aqueduct thus far and that will not change his next time out -  Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 6.
 
 
There has been speculation on how good the remainder of the field was in the Gotham Stakes. Regardless if the field was as well prepared as Vyjack or not, you should still expect some to be back for more in the Wood Memorial. Projected to join him will be West Hills Giant and Elnaawi, the 2nd and 3rd place finishers. Because the race turned out to be pretty one sided down the stretch I’m not sure how much anticipation will surround the rematch. But, as the buildup continues and more contenders enter the Wood it could turn into one of the most exciting Kentucky Derby preps this year.
 
 
As for Overanalyze it’s too early to tell when and where we will see him next. If he hasn't arrived yet it's likely that he will be back in South Florida very soon. He is expected to remain there for training over the next few weeks. Todd Pletcher will keep a good eye on the Gotham Stakes favorite but no decision on his next race is likely to be made until Pletcher puts together a new or revised game plan.  
 
 
A couple of factors that didn’t make his 3-yr-old debut any easier was the long layoff (14 weeks) and breaking from the far outside. Just to his inside in post position 10 was West Hills Giant and he was able to gain the early advantage heading into the first turn. Because Overanalyze was denied a better position he had no choice but to race wide. His location never improved and he eventually weakened down the stretch. I won’t say that the G2 Remsen Stakes winner had his derby dreams dashed with a fifth place finish in Gotham but he will have to respond with authority in order to regain his early ranking on the list of 2013 Kentucky Derby Contenders.  
 
 
Gotham Stakes Points / Projections
 
 
The win likely guarantees Vyjack a place in the Kentucky Derby field. No surprise there but as for the other horses in the field it’s going to be an uphill battle. West Hills Giant and Elnaawi make the leader board for the first time with 20 and 10 points. Overanalyze failed to improve upon his 10 point total so he will face the same challenge his next time out. If these hopefuls plan to make the Kentucky Derby field only a win or a 2nd place finish in an upcoming major prep will get them in. For the Wood Memorial entries that may be a very tall order depending on how deep the Grade 1 field becomes.
 
 
Two Derby Contenders Emerge
 
 
Although some Kentucky Derby handicappers have had their eye on them already the majority has not. The first horse to stand out this past weekend was Departing. After trainer Albert Stall elected to scratch him from the Risen Star because of a bad post position, the son of War Front captured the attention of many with an impressive score in the Texas Heritage Stakes at Sam Houston.
 
 
The win moves him to a perfect 3 for 3 and sets him to make the jump to his first Graded Stakes and Kentucky Derby Prep next time out. That race looks like it will be the G1 Louisiana Derby on March 30. He displays a graceful style of running that makes his wins look easy. So, he’s got my consideration now and we will have to keep an eye on him over the next few weeks.
 
 
The second big winner to come into view over the weekend was Rydilluc. Although this son of Medaglia d’Oro has now entered the Kentucky Derby picture he still remains a bit of a mystery to me. He was all business in his win in the G3 Palm Beach Stakes but the dirt will be a big question that follows him from here. His career debut was on the dirt but after a 5th place finish and the switch to turf he hasn’t looked back. The Palm Beach Stakes was his third turf win in a row but staying on the grass and ignoring the Derby is still pretty hard to do. 
 
 
Trainer Gary Contessa has confirmed that he will give his colt a shot in a Kentucky Derby qualification race. He is expected to switch to Polytrack next time out when he goes hunting for points in the G3 Spiral Stakes on 3/23. From there it is likely that they will stick with the synthetic surface and target the G1 Blue Grass Stakes. But, before they can get that far Rydilluc’s derby dreams depend on a solid performance at Turfway Park.
 
 
Probable for the Rebel Stakes / Recent Workouts
 
 
Super Ninety Nine returned to the track for the first time since winning the G3 Soutwest Stakes at Oaklawn. Anything that you may have found impressive in that race was still lingering around at Santa Anita on Monday. The son of Pulpit, went 4 Furlongs in 46.40 alongside War Academy. The sharp workout was the fastest time out of 44 on the day. Nothing has been confirmed but all signs point to Bob Baffert shipping Super Ninety Nine back to Oaklawn for the G2 Rebel on 3/16.
 
 
Also getting out on the track in Southern California was Treasury Bill. The San Vicente Runner-Up worked 6f in 1:14.80 at Holywood Park Monday morning. Trainer Ron Ellis confirmed that the son of Lemon Drop Kid will also be heading to Hot Springs and the Rebel Stakes.
 
 
Back in Arkansas D. Wayne Lukas confirmed that two of his derby contenders, Oxbow and Will Take Charge,will both stay put and enter the Rebel. Mike Smith will take the reigns with Oxbow while Jon Court will remain in the saddle with Will Take Charge. 
 
Both horses were out on the track for early Tuesday morning 6 Furlong works at Oaklawn. Will Take Charge came through in 1:13.60 while Oxbow finished in 1:13.80. 
  
As of Sunday there was a litter of other notable workouts including one by the almost forgotten Power Broker. To view the most recent workouts be sure to check out the Kentucky Derby 2013 Workout Report - Sunday, March 3
 
 
Up Next
 

Things pick back up this weekend on both coasts with the G2 Tampa Bay Derby and the G2 San Felipe Stakes. Kicking things off will be the highly anticipated Graded Stakes debut for Verrazano followed by the showdown out west between Flashback and Goldencents.
 
 
It’s going to be a very exciting weekend of Kentucky Derby prep racing so be sure to check out the probable starters for both races. Each will award 50 points to its winners.
 
Probable Starters: G2 Tampa Bay Derby | 1 1/16 Mile | Dirt
 
Probable Starters: G2 San Felipe Stakes | 1 1/16 Mile | Dirt 
 

 

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Older Comments about Kentucky Derby Update: Aqueduct is Heating Up...

Overanalyzes performance was most like from the 4 month layoff and just getting to NY from Florida...He was rusty and is expected to improve...I dont believe its from the poor post position, as West Hills Giant was at Post l0 and Overanalyze followed him as he darted to rail. Overanalyze looked comfortable in the 3 wide stalking the pace setters. Only lost by 4 to 5 lenghts and thats a only a second. Don't count him out.
Still Backing my 3 Future wagers. Oxbow, Uncaptured, and Dynamic Sky
get on Vyjack band wagon he will run normandy invasion down you will see
Vyjack is my pick for the derby and i thank he could be the next triple crown winner just like secretariat im not saying he is secretariat but he is taking the same route it time for a gotham winner to win the derby
That is stupid if the Seal the track and don't open(harrow) it up back on race day.
We are starting to see how the new Derby system is going to change how horses are prepared for the Derby. In the past several horses were already in the Derby field in February, now no horse has a spot for sure until the start of the 50 point races in late February. This means all the Derby hopefuls are going to point for only 15 races and will need to win a 50 point race or win or place in the 100 point races to get in the Derby. Until the trainers adapt to the new system some good horses are not going to make the Derby.
Watch for the bias...Have a friend who attends races in NY and reports for a major newspaper. OFTNE, not every year, they roll the track all night before the Wood and it is greased ligtning. Watch the undercard and if faint hearted horses are hanging on race after race, the race track was "juiced.." remember NOT front runners who deserve to win on the front end, both those faint hearted types that usually quit-THOSE are the ones to watch.
Hi Brian..He is indeed under the radar but I love his pedigree, speed mix stamina one can only hope for the best. Thanks for pointing out this one.
I think West Hills Giant should run in the wood. He looked great for most of the race. Maybe next time Vyjack doenst have enough to catch him.
Departing continues to be one of my favorite under the radar horses ... look for him to be on the late nomination list in a few weeks.

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