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Breeders' Cup 2017

Vyjack Back at Favorite Trip in Forego

Multiple graded stakes winner Vyjack will be back at his favorite distance when he runs in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Forego, contested at seven furlongs on the main track.


The 4-year-old Into Mischief gelding is 2-for-2 at seven-eighths of a mile, winning the 2012 Traskwood Stakes at Aqueduct in his second career start as well as an optional claiming allowance on April 27 at the Ozone Park track in his seasonal debut.


Overall, Vyjack has five wins and a third with purse earnings of $612,500 from 12 lifetime races for David Wilkenfeld's Pick Six Racing.


"We're taking a chance, and hopefully the seven furlongs will help him," trainer Rudy Rodriguez said. "It's a very tough field. It's not going to be easy. Let's see what happens."


In his most recent effort, Vyjack was fourth, beaten five lengths by Palace, in the Grade 1, six-furlong Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on August 2 at the Spa after breaking awkwardly and spotting the field an early advantage.


"We were kind of disappointed with the way he broke last time," Rodriguez said. "He ran a pretty good race that day. If he had broke with the group, I don't think he could have beaten the winner but we could have been a little closer, maybe second or third. Since then he's been training very, very good."


Despite the result, Rodriguez was pleased to see a renewed interest by Vyjack, who was a well-beaten ninth in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap and eased in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap in his other two 2014 outings.


"We were very happy to see him perform and finish the way he did," Rodriguez said. "It was encouraging to us to see that he still wanted to do it. He ran a very good race and he came back good out of the race. He's training very good. I take him every day to the main track and I school him in the paddock. I do what I can, and now it's up to him."


Vyjack won his first four starts, including the Grade 2 Jerome and Grade 3 Gotham to open his 2013 campaign. On the Triple Crown trail, he was third by a length in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, 18th in the Kentucky Derby, eighth in the Belmont Stakes and sixth in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational before getting an extended vacation.


"Sometimes, you have to give them an easy race to get them back into the rhythm again," Rodriguez said. "Sometimes, you keep putting horses in the Grade 1 races and they finish third, fourth, fifth and I think they just go through the same routine. They know when they win; they know when they do something good. Sometimes you have to show them that they can still be competitive and then they get a little better."


Rodriguez is hoping for a better start in the Forego for Vyjack, who will break from post 3 in the 10-horse field under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.


"I don't want to look for excuses," Rodriguez said. "Believe me, he's worked good and he's trained good. He's doing very good, and he looks very good. You've just got to hope that he breaks good. I think if he breaks with the group he's got a good chance."


*          *          *


Two New York-breds, Palace and Artemis Agrotera, have won Grade 1 sprint races so far during the 2014 Saratoga meet. On Saturday, Weekend Hideaway will attempt to join that group when he competes in the Grade 1, $500,000 Forego, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up.


Weekend Hideaway, a son of Speightstown, is a four-time stakes winner and enters the Forego off a two-length triumph in the 6 ½-furlong John Morrissey for New York-breds on August 15 at the Spa. The 4-year-old is trained by Phil Serpe for Red and Black Stable. Serpe trained for and advised Weekend Hideaway's late breeder, Carl Lizza of Flying Zee Stables.


Serpe credited Lizza for being at the forefront of the movement to improve the quality of New York-breds.


"When Mr. Lizza passed away, I bought [Weekend Hideaway for $40,000] for Red and Black Stable out of the dispersal," said Serpe. "At that time, Flying Zee Stable was one of the first operations to go really in advance on breeding better mares to out-of-state sires and coming up with better New York-breds. As you can see from this horse and [Artemis Agrotera] and horse after horse that New York-breds are something to be reckoned with now. Just like [Zivo], who came back and won the [Grade 2] Suburban [Handicap]. You have to respect horses for what they are and not where they are bred."


Weekend Hideaway is 3-1-0 in four starts on the main track at Saratoga, where he broke his maiden and won the David Stakes as a 2-year-old. He has made only one start in a graded stakes, a fifth-place finish in the 2013 Grade 2 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park.


"We're definitely moving up in class," said Serpe. "I thought he ran a really sensational race [in the Morrissey], and we have to see how good we are."


Serpe said he expects Weekend Hideaway to relish the Forego's seven-furlong distance.


"I think this horse's best distance is six to seven furlongs," said Serpe. "We were trying to stretch things to a mile [when he was third in the Commentator Handicap in May] at Belmont, and I don't think that is his cup of tea. Against the right horses on the right day he could go farther than seven furlongs, but I'm not really looking to do that."


Source: NYRA




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