Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

The Curious Case of Vyjack

It’s not that I’ve never seen a horse do what Vyjack did yesterday, because I have. But in forty years of watching the races, I could probably count the number of horses that I have seen do it on one hand. What exactly did the undefeated son of Into Mischief do that was so extraordinary? Simple … confirmed speed horses do not drop way back, only to come from the clouds and roll to victory. Making it all the more of a pleasant surprise was the fact that, in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes, the sudden metamorphosis came in his toughest race to date. In racing, it would seem as rare as Halley’s Comet. Yet that is exactly what Vyjack was able to accomplish yesterday on the inner track of Aqueduct.
Granted, his sample size was small, with only three races to his credit before yesterday’s stunner, but Vyjack looked to the entire world like a horse that would be on the front end in the Gotham. He had previously pressured solid fractions before winning his first two races, a pair of sprints. In his stakes, and two-turn debut, Vyjack laid down the early fractions, before prevailing in a stretch-long battle in the Jerome. So when he fell behind to the back of the pack almost immediately yesterday, it would have been easy to dismiss his chances just as quickly. This was true for most in attendance, but apparently not so with his connections.
“I was looking for him to run that way, taking dirt in the face because we have been working with him like that,” said winning trainer, Rudy Rodriguez.
If that was indeed the plan, their young star could not have fulfilled their wishes any better. Looking as smooth and comfortable as a horse that was born to be a one-run closer, Vyjack responded to rider Joel Rosario’s commands in kind. He patiently waited until it was time to go, and when that word came, he went. Picking them up and laying them down, the bay gelding stormed from tenth to first, and won going away impressively by 2 ¼ lengths. They may have been working towards a different style of racing for Vyjack, but his connections could not have expected the change to happen so perfectly.
"We were very, very happy to see him do what he did yesterday, especially when everything was winning close to the pace,” said Rodriguez.
If you need another reason to appreciate what Vyjack was able to accomplish yesterday, take a look at the charts of every other race on the card. Other than the Gotham, every race was won by a horse on, or near the lead in the early stages. The Pick Six Racing owned runner was the lone closer to win on the card. It still seems odd to call Vyjack a closer, but yesterday, that is exactly what he was. This begs the question just what kind of horse he is.
“He doesn’t know what he’s doing yet,” said Rodriguez. “I think he’s still got more."
More, yes, but more of what? Speed? Stalk? Rally? Maybe Vyjack is that rare horse that can do whatever it is that needs to be done in a given race. Just win, baby… after all, that is the name of the game.
Admittedly, Vyjack is a horse that I was slow to believe in as far as potential to win on the first Saturday in May. Now his first-crop sire, Into Mischief looks more interesting to me. Now I am remembering that his half-brother, Prime Cut finished well in both the Lexington and Peter Pan a couple of years ago. Now I see Vyjack in a whole new light, and it all happened in the time it took for him to storm down the Aqueduct stretch yesterday. The Wood Memorial will be the last test before Vyjack has a date in the Kentucky Derby, and suddenly I cannot wait to see what this horse will do next.
Photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese 


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Older Comments about The Curious Case of Vyjack...

Review the vast majority of maiden races...Where do the winner's reside? On or close to the pace the majority of the time.
Vyjack went from being a pace-pressing sprinter in his first 2 to be a front-running router in his next - a logical extension. Certainly no one, absent the connections evidently, expected Vyjack to be so far off of the pace. That was anomolous even though the sample size is admittedly small. The fact he was able to win his toughest race while getting dirt in his face, etc, may not impress everyone, but it sure impresses me. With adaptability and ability to make your own trip so important in the large Derby field, this off-the-pace win is a nice feather in Vyjack's cap.
Ah censorship JUST what we all need to understand the mixed bag that is the truth or shades of the same.
Perhaps an edit button would be more useful than depriving us of travel_vic, Brian.
Some points are not stated with a single fact are they not? No one proves a theorem with a single suggestion,,,,,Further investigation of the subject enlightened me to further facts substantiating my point. Debate (at least everywhere else) is done that very way.
travel_vic, you've now made the last six comments on this article. Other than yourself, who are you talking to? No one on HRN is interested in seeing you talk to yourself. Your commenting privileges are in jeopardy.
7.3 off at the 6 furlong and 2.5 at the strech call, so that was not the huge move it is being made out to be.
Looked at the chart again and the winner of the Gotham made up the majority of his mover PRIOR to the 1/8th pole so the sweeping move was not against much of a time segment.
that was HOW to converse
New York Times had an article about it as regards the ineptitude of Stanford "on line" Freshman in both language and mathematics.
most all of my friends who are educators are lamenting the exact same problem: youngster do not know who to converse.
I do not hanker to converse in gutter talk.......I speak one language fluently
LMAO...look it up! Old dog has to learn new tricks.
translator translator...Are we not posting English here??
WHEN they have all run, at graded levels, at 9 furlongs, and we know the collective pace pressures from the FINAL group, I consider the handicapping outcome. I observe if there was a bias for oak day (there often is) and then I WAIT UNTIL I KNOW my investment standard I am receiving (odds) and usually creat Dutch bet. IF, and this has happened a few times, there are no opportunities (I have made much more on the undercard historically) I simply watch.
TV- do you pick a derby horse? Or do you wait until its done and go from there?
Oh now I see the wiley old verteran has had 4 whole races! At this point the youngster is just finding HIMSELF and has no set style.
Most horses do not even have a discernable style until they have gone 6 to 8 races...How many does this "seasoned veteran" have? I'll bet he won his maiden on the front and now when he passes a field of horses, WOW his whole running style (NEVER TO HAVE BEEN REALLT ESTABLISED at such a few races) has changed!! And the trainer is the reason behind. Poppycock.
Style changed by a trainer??? I have seen it TWICE.....Most people define racing style the simplistic POSITIONAL way which takes NO account for pace of race, i.e. War Emblem's last wire to wire contest before his Derby win, was a wire to wire LATE run which suggested to those who understood its signficance, to realize he could easily win the Derby on the lead if left alone.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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